Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Yemen: Suicide bomber kills 45 in Abyan

Yemen's government has blamed al-Qa'ida for a suicide bombing that has claimed at least 45 lives in the southern province of Abyan. Dozens more people were injured in the attack on a funeral in the city of Jaar.

It is thought that the bomber detonated an explosive belt during the service held by a tribal militia that supported the army during recent fighting.

In a statemtn, local governor Jamal al-Aqal said that an investigation had been opened into the "criminal and cowardly" attack on the service. According to an unnamed witness: "Bodies were flying in all directions because the explosion was so powerful."

Earlier this year, Yemen's army carried out a major offensive against Islamist militants in Abyan, taking control of the region in June with the help of civilian militias comprised of local tribesmen.
The latest attack, however, has raised fears that Ansar al-Sharia remains active in the area. Groups belonging to the al-Qa'ida have taken advantage of the security vacuum in the country, which began during a year of protests against the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Upon taking power the new President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi pledged his forces would crush the militants, but it seems the fight is ongoing.

The US has used its drones in the region to support the military campaign. According to Yemeni officials, just days ago, five alleged al-Qa'ida militants were killed in a suspected US drone strike. The drone reportedly targeted their vehicle in Hadramawt.

Sources: Agence France-Presse, BBC News, Reuters

For more news and expert analysis about Yemen, please see Yemen Focus.

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