Al-Qaeda fighters attacked government and security buildings in the southern town of al-Bayda on Wednesday. The attack killed a minimum of four soldiers, before security forces beat back the al-Qaeda fighters.
The attack by al-Qaeda was one of the first by the Al-Qaeda Arabian Peninsula since the Shi’ite Muslim Houthis took control of Sanaa the capital late in September pledging they would destroy the Yemen wing of the militant movement.
The Houthis on Tuesday rejected President of Yemen Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s appointment of a different Prime Minister and vowed they would resist it, laying the ground for more political standoffs.
Officials, speaking on a condition of anonymity, said that gunmen attacked targets including the headquarters of special security and a provincial administrative building.
The attackers said the officials, used rocket propelled grenades and guns in the assault at dawn, and residents said explosions could be heard around the entire city.
Al-Bayda is located in the province with the same name and its capital. It is situated next to the Shabwa and Abyan provinces that have been longtime strongholds of the Arabia Peninsula al-Qaeda, and seen by the West as one of the militant movement’s most active organizations.
The official news agency reported security forces had later repulsed an attack.
The Arabian Peninsula al-Qaeda and allied militants on eastern and southern Yemen have staged a number of attacks and carried out assassinations the past 3 years against the government as well as other targets, despite a number of army campaigns to eliminate the group from its strongholds in remote rural locations.
For Gulf and Western countries, improving Yemen’s stability is important since it location is strategic near the biggest exporters of oil and the ruthless Arabian Peninsula al-Qaeda use of parts of Yemen that are lawless to plan their attacks on international targets including airliners and in neighboring Saudi Arabia.
Houthis, who demand additional rights for one third of the 25 million people in Yemen who follow the Shia Islam Zaydi sect, took control of Sanaa September 21 after its militia advance into the capital from the northern part of the country the past few months.