SANA’A, July 23 — A suicide car bomber targeted a military convoy in Beer Al-Fdhl, in the Al-Mansora district of Aden around 8am Sunday morning. A Toyota Hilux packed with explosives crashed into at least two armored vehicles from Air Defense that were headed to Abyan governorate.
The attack is believed to be by Al-Qaeda members that left at least nine soldiers dead, according to medical sources in Al-Buraihi Hospital. Associate Press quoted an official as saying that two senior officers, a major and a lieutenant-colonel, were among the killed.
At least 21 were wounded in the attack with the injured being distributed between Aden’s hospitals, according to journalist Abdullah Al-Sharafi in Aden.
“Military sources confirmed to me that nine were killed and over 20 wounded. This attack against a military vehicle using a car bomb is not the first,” said journalist Anees Mansour from Aden.
The attack on Sunday morning was the fifth car bomb attack in Aden over the last two months. Only last Wednesday, a British citizen working in the shipping industry was killed in car bombing also believed to be the work of Al-Qaeda.
On June 29, Colonel Mutee’ Al-Syani, a high ranking colonel in the Yemeni military, was assassinated by a car bomb. On June 23, Colonel Khalid Al-Hubaishi, leader of Infantry Regiment Division 31, was bombed whilst driving his own car home at night. On June 13, a car packed with explosives attacked armored vehicles in Katliks.
Although security check points are spread across Aden, locals complain that they are ineffective. “The whole governorate is just check points, but they are useless,” said local Al-Sharafi.
Political analysts warn that the same scenario that has played out in Abyan will soon be repeated in Aden if the state cannot stop Al-Qaeda and related militant groups.
“This [Sunday’s] bombing is a message from Al-Qaeda, that they have started to penetrate more,” said Mansour. “There are Al-Qaeda cells in Aden. They enter individually and have more than one active cell in the Dar Sa’ad area.”
According to Mansour, Al-Qaeda cells inside the governorate exhaust the military, although the security belt in Aden is “enough”. Mansour said that if the militant groups managed to defeat the 25th mechanized brigade in Abyan, then Aden will also have fallen to the militant groups.
“Since February there has been a lawlessness in Aden. The military have not been doing their duties. There are armed people wandering in the city at nights, banners encouraging the Islamist Caliphate, that scare the locals,” said Mansour.
Ahmed Al-Zurqa, a political analyst, told the Yemen Times that the Abyan scenario is repeating itself in Aden, and that Aden is more likely to to descend into greater chaos.
“This is the fifth or sixth operation in Aden that a limited number of members have committed. But they are so aware of the area,” said al-Zurqa.
Al-Zurqa predicted that Aden faces a greater risk if the 25th mechanized brigade came under the militant groups control. “In Abyan, there is support by other brigades, and the tribes there are fighting to take back Abyan from the armed groups,” he said. “In Aden there are around six military camps that follow the southern area, therefore it’s hard to say that Aden will be an open area for armed fighting.”
According to Al-Zurqa, the regime playing the Al-Qaeda card has become risky for both the country and the regime itself, especially in Aden. The area is of great importance due to its location on a major international sea route and as a path for a large volume of petroleum products.
Some locals believe that the US has had a hand in supporting terrorism in Yemen as a justification for sending in their troops with the excuse of counter-terrorism. There is a fear that foreigners wish to gain access to Yemen’s resources, of which Aden is of central importance. However, Al-Zurqa thinks that the US would avoid this step because of the potentially huge military and political cost.