Two soldiers killed, 11 injured by Al Qaeda in Yemen

Published December 30th, 2014 - 11:44 GMT

Al Qaeda in Yemen killed two soldiers and wounded 11 others on Monday in an ambush targeting a regional army chief in southeastern Hadramawt province.

According to army officials, "Members of Al Qaeda" set a surprise attack for the convoy of General Abdul Rahman al-Hulaili, the head of the First Military Region, who eventually escaped unharmed.

The assailants detonated explosives planted on the roadside and opened fire as the convoy passed.

In a separate attack on Monday in central Baida city, two gunmen on a motorbike shot dead intelligence officer Nasser al-Wahishi, a local authority official said, blaming al-Qaeda for the assault.

The attacks come a day after a bombing targeted the commander of the 31st armored battalion, General Farej al-Atiqi, in the southern city of Aden.

Atiqi escaped the bomb blast unscathed, but his driver was killed and two other bodyguards were wounded. A device that had been hidden in his car was detonated by remote control, army officials said.

Members of the security forces in Yemen are often the targets of attacks by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is active in several Yemeni provinces, mainly in the south and southeast.

The ongoing crisis in Yemen has raised concerns that the country, next to oil-rich Saudi Arabia and key shipping routes from the Suez Canal to the Gulf, could become a failed state along the lines of Somalia, as it struggles to recover following the ousting of veteran autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh in February 2012.

During the pro-democracy unrest, the military split between forces loyal to Saleh and those backing General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, an Islamist-leaning general who had backed the uprising and went on to become a military adviser to current president Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Corruption, internal splits and competing loyalties in the army began before Saleh was ousted and are now reaching a critical stage. The rift weakened the army and contributed to the rise of AQAP militants.

Apart from AQAP, Hadi's government faces challenges from southern separatists who have been calling for a weekly civil disobedience day every Monday to demand independence and from Houthi fighters who seized control of Sanaa in September in what they said was a drive against corruption.

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