Local security officials in the central Yemeni city of Baydah reported a series of attacks carried out by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) early this morning. AQAP fighters attacked several military targets in the city, including a Special Forces headquarters, a police station, and two military checkpoints. While initial reports from the main hospital in the city claimed that at least 10 police officers were killed in the attacks, security officials later said that 11 soldiers were killed in addition to 12 AQAP fighters.
AQAP was quick to take credit for the operations via a Twitter account affiliated with the terrorist group. The statement claimed that the attack against the Special Forces headquarters was carried out by a suicide bomber named Abu Dajjana al Lahji and that the mujahideen had also attacked various security headquarters and a government complex, as well as the Zaher and Izza military checkpoints in the city. In this preliminary statement, AQAP claimed that tens of Yemeni soldiers were killed and injured and that clashes in the city were still ongoing.
The AQAP statement also noted that today’s attacks in Baydah reflect the Houthi rebellion and determination to “fight the Sunnis … with the pretext of combating al Qaeda.” The statement added that it was this determination that legitimized the Houthis in the eyes of the Sana’a government.
In a secondary statement released just two hours after the first, AQAP provided more details about today’s offensive. This statement claimed that AQAP fighters began their “coordinated attacks” at midnight on Wednesday with an initial assault on the main gate of the Special Forces base in order to clear the path for the suicide bomber, Abu Dajjana al Lahji. In order to maximize casualties, al Lahji stormed the base and detonated his explosives beside a building housing Yemeni soldiers. The mujahideen then stormed the base’s command center and set it on fire along with military vehicles that were at the site.
The second statement also alleges that AQAP fighters attacked the Izza checkpoint in the city, but does not mention the attack at the Zaher checkpoint noted in the initial statement. However, AQAP claimed that two soldiers were killed in this assault and that its fighters took full control of the checkpoint and managed to seize two military vehicles as well as anti-aircraft weaponry.