MS Risk Blog

AQAP takes responsibility for Double Suicide Bombing

Posted on in Terrorism, Yemen title_rule

9 December- A double suicide bombing occurred at the First Military Command base in Seyoun, Yemen. Seyoun is the capital city of Yemen’s Hadramout province. Sources indicated that the two attackers attempted to get into the base to detonate vehicle borne IEDs. Soldiers attempted to prevent the vehicles from entering, however one car bomb exploded at the bases gate. The other vehicle detonated inside the compound. Four people were killed and eight were wounded.

The first vehicle was driven Humam al Qarqa al Awlaki, who detonated a Suzuki Vitara filled with half a ton of explosives at the base’s gate around 8:40 a.m. About two minutes later, Nasser bin Ganam al Si’ri detonated a Toyota Hilux carrying 1.25 tons of explosives inside the command headquarters.

A Twitter account affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a tweet claiming responsibility for the bombings. The tweet also suggested that “tens” of soldiers had been killed and a number of military vehicles were disabled. The group said that their fighters had been monitoring the base; 30 minutes prior to the attacks, a military convoy including high-ranking officials had entered the base.

AQAP released a statement on 9 December which also took credit for the attack of a military truck in al Shihr, about 150 miles south of Seyoun. The attack killed two soldiers and wounded one. AQAP says that soldiers at barracks near the attack fired “randomly” for over an hour after the attack. The group accused the military of damaging a mosque and several “houses of Muslims in the area.” A day earlier, AQAP conducted several bombings in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a targeting the homes of Shiite Houthi leaders. The group conducted three bombings, killing fifteen and wounding 35 Houthis.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for 25 terrorist attacks in Yemen since 1 December, targeting Houthi and military people and facilities. Of the 25, eight attacks, or about 30% were aimed at Yemeni military stationed in the south and east. The remaining 70% have been directed at Houthi leaders or military positions, mainly in Sana’a.

Shiite Houthi fighters have gained traction in their battles against AQAP in recent months. Houthi leaders have captured towns in the South and east that were under the control of AQAP. On 18 November, Houthi fighters pushed AQAP militants out of the south-western strategic town of Rada’a. The town had been under the control of al-Qaeda militants since early 2012. Houthi fighters are now in full control of the strategic town; the group has expressed their preparedness to withdraw from the town when the Yemeni army is able to restore peace and security.

Yemen’s President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has stressed the need for cooperation with the Houthis to restore security to the country. Yemen’s central government has so far failed to confront the terrorist threat. Houthi fighters, however, have intervened to fill the vacuum and driven al-Qaeda militants out of many areas in the country.

In response to the loss strongholds to Shi’ite Houthi fighters, AQAP has accused the Houthis of acting as proxy fighters for the United States and threatened renewed violence against them. In a late-November audio message on jihadist websites, al AQAP’s military commander Qassim al-Raymi said, “You have to know that the mosques of Muslims that you blew up along with their homes and schools, will not just pass unnoticed and you will pay the price dearly.”

AQAP is likely retaliating for military cooperation with the Houthis, and perceived cooperation with the United States. On 4 December, the group released a video featuring a hostage American photo-journalist Luke Somers. The group threatened to kill Somers if the US government did not give in to various demands. On 6 December, during an attempted rescue mission by US security forces in Shabwa, Somers was killed, along with a South African hostage.

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