AQAP attacks intelligence headquarters in Aden

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula appears to have pulled off a sophisticated attack in Aden, killing at least 14 soldiers at an intelligence headquarters. From Reuters:

In Saturday’s attack, witnesses said militants had fired rocket-propelled grenades at the intelligence service’s three-storey building, shattering windows and setting it on fire.

“The operation seemed to have been well planned,” a local security source said. He said he believed the attackers belonged to al Qaeda.

He said the militants had stopped their vehicle in front of an adjacent five-storey television building, blown up a military vehicle guarding the compound, and then attacked the intelligence service building with automatic fire and rocket propelled grenades before fleeing.

The Defence Ministry said the militants had also detonated a car bomb next to the building, destroying part of it. It put the death toll at 14 dead and seven wounded.

The ministry said all the casualties were members of the intelligence service and the Central Security forces, which guard the nearby television offices.

AQAP is known to have a presence in Aden, and has carried out several suicide attacks and assassinations in the city. The most prominent suicide attack took place in mid-June, when a suicide bomber killed Brigadier General Salem Ali al Quton. The general was the commander of Yemen’s southern military district and had directed the offensive that cleared AQAP from the major cities and towns in Abyan and Shabwa provinces. Quton was killed when a suicide bomber detonated outside of the general’s home. AQAP claimed credit for the attack and accused the US of directing the war against the terror group in Yemen.

In another suicide attack, in June 2011, a suicide bomber killed nine Yemeni soldiers in an attack on a military convoy in Aden.

The US has conducted at least one drone strike in Aden. On June 25, the unmanned Predators or Reapers killed an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula commander and two fighters in an airstrike near the southern port city.

Yemeni officials have said that AQAP has continued to attempt to conduct attacks in Aden. On Aug. 9, security forces arrested four al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters as they were traveling to the city.

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

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