A suicide bomber killed more than 90 Yemeni troops as they practiced for a parade in the capital Sana’a May 21. The bomber was dressed as a soldier and detonated his explosives-packed vest in the middle of a formation of troops from the Central Security Organization, a paramilitary branch of the Ministry of the Interior. The troops were drilling for the upcoming “National Unity Day” parade at a location near the Presidential Palace. Yemen’s defense minister and the military chief of staff were planning on greeting the troops at the rehearsal. Ninety-six troops, many from the Central Security Organization, were killed and at least 300 wounded in the blast, with the death toll expected to rise. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed the attack, according to a statement released by the Madad News Agency, an AQAP propaganda arm. “The primary target of this blessed operation was the Defense Minister of the Sana’a regime and his corrupt entourage, and that it came in response to the unjust war launched by the Sana’a regime’s forces in cooperation with the American and Saudi forces,” the statement said, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group. (Long War Journal, May 21)
Two days earlier, the US killed two presumed AQAP operatives in a drone airstrike on a convoy in the central province of Baydah.Hundreds of civilians, AQAP fighters, and Yemeni troops have been killed in fighting in southern Yemen over the past week. Especially heavy fighting has been reported in Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, which has been under AQAP control for one year. (Long War Journal, May 19)
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