A Twitter account linked to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a statement today claiming that the terrorist group’s fighters carried out a rocket attack on a joint US-American airbase in Yemen’s southern Lahj province. According to AQAP, this latest attack against US interests in Yemen is a retaliation for the failed US rescue operation last week that sought to free several hostages, including American photojournalist Luke Somers.
Today’s attack took place at the al Annad base in Lahj province, reportedly where both American and European military advisers assist their Yemeni counterparts in combating the threat posted by AQAP. Activities at the base include operating the covert US drone program that specifically targets the terrorist group.
AQAP claimed that fighters from the Hamdi al Tha’alabi Brigades launched six Grad rockets at the “American division at the al Annad base” at 2:10 a.m. today. AQAP named today’s attack “Taking Revenge for Our Martyrs,” in reference to “the Muslims killed by American special forces in two failed landing operations in Hadramout and Shabwa” on Nov. 24-25 and Dec. 5-6, respectively.
Media reports confirmed that an attack took place before dawn this morning at the al Annad airbase. Eyewitnesses indicated that a powerful explosion was heard at the base in the early morning hours and that ambulances rushed to the site to transport casualties and wounded to a nearby hospital.
This latest attack against US interests in Yemen comes a week after AQAP’s execution of Luke Somers as well as South African hostage Pierre Korkie during a failed US rescue attempt in Shabwa. Two weeks earlier, AQAP claimed responsibility for a double IED (improvised explosive device) attack at the US Embassy in Sana’a.
AQAP continues to battle Houthis in central Yemen
While AQAP has escalated its attacks against US interests in Yemen in recent weeks, the terrorist group is still mounting a serious challenge to the Shiite Houthi rebel expansion in the country. Fighting with the Houthis has taken place in nearly all Yemeni provinces, with particular focus on the central provinces south of Sana’a.
On Dec. 8, AQAP claimed that its fighters staged an ambush against a Houthi vehicle in the Jafinah area of Radaa in Baydah province, allegedly killing three rebels on board. The following evening, AQAP fighters launched a coordinated attack on the Dar al Najd checkpoint along with two other Houthi positions in Baydah, allegedly killing 20 Houthis. The relevant AQAP statement claimed that another group of its fighters besieged a group of Houthis in the same area and prevented their advance by attacking them with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and improvised explosive devices.
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