AQAP suicide bomber kills nearly 100 Yemeni troops in capital

Video of the aftermath of the suicide attack in Sana’a, Yemen, on May 21, 2012.

An al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula suicide bomber killed more than 90 Yemeni troops as they practiced for a parade in the capital of Sana’a today.

The suicide bomber was dressed as a soldier and detonated his explosives-packed vest in the middle of a formation of troops from the Central Security Organization, a paramilitary branch of the Ministry of the Interior, according to the BBC. The troops were drilling for tomorrow’s National Unity Day parade at a location near the Presidential Palace. Yemen’s defense minister and the military chief of staff were planning on greeting the troops at today’s rehearsal.

Ninety-six Yemeni troops, many from the Central Security Organization, were killed and at least 300 more were wounded in the deadly blast, AFP has reported. The death toll is expected to rise.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed credit for today’s suicide attack in Sana’a, according to a statement released by the Madad News Agency, an AQAP propaganda arm.

“The primary target of this blessed operation was the Defense Minister of the Sana’a

regime and his corrupt entourage, and that it came in response to the unjust war launched by the Sana’a regime’s forces in cooperation with the American and Saudi forces,” the statement said, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Today’s suicide attack takes place as the Yemeni military is on the offensive in Abyan province, where AQAP and its political front, Ansar al Sharia, control several cities and towns, including Zinjibar, the provincial capital, and Jaar. Hundreds of AQAP fighters, Yemeni soldiers, and civilians have been reported killed during fighting over the past 10 days.

The US has backed the Yemeni military with airstrikes as well as military advisers. The US has conducted eight drone strikes against AQAP fighters in Yemen this month, and six strikes each of the previous two months. Several senior AQAP operatives, including Fahd al Quso, have been killed in the airstrikes.

AQAP has been targeting the Yemeni military in attacks on bases in the south. In the biggest assault, on March 4, hundreds of AQAP fighters overran a base in Al Koud, killing 185 soldiers, wounding more than 200, and capturing 73 more.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.


  • Villiger says:

    More Muslims killing Muslims. Never understood it, never will. Sort yourselves out. I’m not being racist–just observing the facts, of which this an example. After all, we are living in the 21st century and you’re making the world look medieval.
    Btw the bbc is already reporting 222 dead. Disgraceful.
    Muslims around the world need to find ways of updating their rigid religion so that one can yank the Sharia-jihadists into modernity.

  • David says:

    A single suicide bomber managed to detonate an explosive with enough yield to kill 200+ people?! How closely packed were the troops?
    You’d have trouble killing that many people with a 155mm artillery shell if they were all in one big group hug.

  • Devin Leonard says:

    Viligger…I don’r get it either, but I also never got Christians killing Christians in Northern Ireland. Terrorists focus on an ideology, if thier own kind get in the way, they die too…that seems to be they way of it with them. That’s why terrorrists are all hyporcrites in my book.

  • m3fd2002 says:

    You nailed it.My experience with reporting from the Middle East is that you divide by three to get an approximation as regard to casualties in any conflict. I saw the video, no more than 60 fatalities, at best. But who cares. The bomber was a local cadre that blasted his fellow tribesman. This strike was a good tactical response from Al Queda, but their message is lost. One thing that the Iraq campaign has proven, that the Arab street has abandoned Al Qaeda as a political or military alternative. The Arab street will embrace a “softer” muslim brotherhood institutionalization of the Arab cultures for the next generation. Not what we(the West) wanted, but it will play out as such in my opinion. I felt that the current administrations strategic approach of waiting and watching will only lead to the most organized elements to fill the power vacuums created. Egypt will be a new “Iran”, with the Israelis only option to develop a massive thermonuclear arsenal in response. MAD was a success because there were “reasonable” people behind the buttons. The new paradigm in the middle east will not have the same constraint.

  • mike merlo says:

    This country is in the throes of a Civil War & the military & security services are busy ‘practicing’ for a parade on National Unity Day no less. You gotta be kidding me.

  • Joey says:

    Gotta agree with David, how do 200 + people or even 100 + people get killed by one man with a suicide vest. I’m guessing ball bearings were involved, but still, such a tightly packed group of people would act as a barrier to others getting killed…right?

  • sundoesntirse says:

    Nobody is going to care about this event other than people like Bill, and people who’s job is to report on war events across the world related to terrorism.
    People just don’t focus on this stuff anymore. Maybe because it has happened so much now. But I still think it is, to be frank – pathetic, that in the so called age of information so many people choose to ignore events like this and either pretend they never happened, or attempt to justify them.
    We have the tools to be able to stop this stuff – yet somehow, we never get around to doing it.

  • Stu says:

    Incredible butchery! Where’s the western media in reporting this atrocity. I only hope it serves as a tipping point in the resolve of Yemen and other sane regimes to strike al Qaeda without mercy.
    Also makes you wonder where the seeeminly endless supply of idiots who commit suicide while killing so many others. Call this thing what it is: mania, mass murder, nothing “blessed” about it.

  • Devin Leonard says:

    Joey….I don’t know. I n Iraq we saw the aftermath of these kind of bombing and the insurgents used ball bearings and screws to pretty deadly effet. However 105 dead is a very large amount. We saw maybe 50-60 dead at the most in Iraq froma single suicicde bomber. This could have been just a massive suicide vest and detonated in the middle of enough people to keep the shrapnel flying. It’s hard to say without seeing the aftermath firsthand. It could have been the work of the master bomb maker we have been after, who devised the underwear bomb and the printer cartridge bombs, but that is just a guess. Either way I feel for the Yemini’s…it’s a horrific act.

  • VilligersAnswer says:

    what’s the difference to, let’s say, the American Civil War?
    Americans killing Americans? World Wars 1 or 2, Europeans killing Europeans?

  • Tom says:

    It’s amazing that every injury was immediately fatal. Not one body is moving. Not a single one!!

  • gerald says:

    Even though it looks chaotic and dangerous now,the Arab Spring will sort itself out. We have to adopt a hands off approach to the problem. Any interference on our part will only lead to resentment and continued turmoil. The Arabs have to solve the Arab problem. We should concentrate on one thing:Killing Terrorists with impunity no matter where they run to or what name they adopt. This will serve us and the Arabs. We keep our Homeland secure and the Arabs are freed from the oppression of Radical Islam.

  • TLA says:

    Villiger, the BBC is not a trustworthy source on matters military.

  • Devin Leonard says:

    joey… I haven’t seen a suicide bomber kill that many people with a simple suicide vest. Even in Iraq we saw the aftermath of suicide vest bombings that killed 40-60 people with the use of screws and ball bearings. This must have been a specially made vest with a large amount of explosives in it. And the peole must have been spread out to some degree to kill that many.

  • Neo says:

    I’m with those who think this is a gross overcount. It’s still a lot and there don’t seem to be vehicles involved. Better explosives? Body cavity bomb?

  • Neo says:

    I guess a body cavity bomb would tend to absorb the explosion.

  • villiger says:

    VilligersAnswer, I know where you’re coming from and I respect that.
    I’m not a great student of history so shan’t address your question in its ‘technical’ context.
    One could say, i’m more of a student of life. In that sense i would observe that nationalism and religion are the two greatest triggers in war, ie organised mass violence.
    The difference as i see it is in the 21st century, nationalism as a trigger to war is on the wane, while Islam as a confrontational trigger is on the rise. I am deliberately not suggesting that religions are at war with each other, some of it yes, but its at the margin compared with Islam firstly at war with the rest of the world and secondly, curiously intra-Islamic warfare.
    I don’t have the numbers but i suspect that more muslims have killed other muslims in this century than the aggregate casualties inflicted by or upon the US/Isaf invading forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. To answer your question, the difference lies in:
    1. Islam is an aggressive religion inherently towards all others. Their intolerance is untenable. (The combination of the concepts of Sharia and Jihad deliver this.)
    2. Who is ‘legislating’ change or even updating Islam? They need to live with the rest of civilization and I’m sure millions want to. But leadership is an issue, the various sects are in disarray and therefore overall its chaotic enough for AQ and associated movements to exploit this.
    In conclusion, I would add that the Afghan war is not a religious war, nor is it an ‘insurgency’, it is a nationalistic war perpetrated by Paqistan’s expansionist design of dominating the Afghan people through autocratic rule by barbarians.

  • villiger says:

    TLA, you’re right–they’re probably a little better with the weather!

  • Knighthawk says:

    “Where’s the western media in reporting this atrocity.”

    You must be joking most of the western media doesn’t give a rats arse about what’s going on in Yemen, let alone have any current desires to report on it.

  • TLA says:

    Actually, the BBC news make the Democrats look conservative and the G.O.P. look like the Klu Klux Klan. Never trust anything they write politically or militarily.

  • Tom Welsch says:

    My comment dated May 21 must have been too vague. I was trying to point out that this “bombing”was staged. Look at the video again.
    All those bodies and no one is writhing in pail. No one is walking around, dazed and bleeding. It’s all a fake! The Yemenese are not very good actors. But then again,
    I guess they don’t have to be.


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