Taking advantage of heavy fog,al-Qaeda militants set off car bombs and launched co-ordinated attacks on Yemeni military barracks in three different locations in a southern province on Friday,killing at least 38 troops and wounding dozens of soldiers,a military official said.
The attacks were the largest since a US-backed military offensive last year routed militants from significant swaths of territory they had seized during Yemens 2011 political turmoil.
The simultaneous,6 am attacks Friday in the southern province of Shabwa,a one-time al-Qaeda stronghold,surprised and caught the soldiers unprepared in the early morning hours,said Maj. Mohammed Nasser.
The attacks took place in a remote region,about 500 km southeast of the Yemeni capital,Sanaa,Nasser said. The militants targeted three military encampments,two of them in the town of al-Mayfaa,and the third miles away,in the al-Ain area.
One suicide car bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into one of the sites in al-Mayfaa after militants overpowered the guards outside the barracks there. Most of the causalities among the troops were in this camp,which serves as a base for soldiers in charge of guarding oil wells in the area. Clashes at the other al-Mayfaa site left at least five troops wounded,Nasser added.
Meanwhile,a car bomb was detonated prematurely outside the gates of the third site,the camp in al-Ain. The explosion there was followed by heavy clashes during which militants seized six soldiers and a number of military vehicles. Eight militants were killed in the fighting at al-Ain,Nasser said.
Fridays attacks came just days after Yemeni authorities warned of more al-Qaeda attacks and suicide bombings.