ADEN, (Xinhua): The death toll from three suicide car bombings that ripped through a key military site and police center in Yemen’s southeastern province of Shabwa has risen to at least 65, a local security official said.
“At least 65 army and security soldiers died and 38 others were wounded in three simultaneous car bombing attacks that targeted the police station headquarters and army-held sites in Azzan area in Shabwa,” the provincial security official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
A police officer said that the deadliest of Friday’s attacks took place when an al-Qaida suicide bomber drove his explosive- laden car into the army held-site in Azzan near an oil pipeline.
Medical officials in a nearby military hospital confirmed to Xinhua the casualty figures.
An earlier toll on Friday said that three explosives-rigged cars went off at a military site in Azzan, killing at least 40 army soldiers and wounding dozens of others at the scene, a local government source said.
An army source said that the security forces backed by heavy armored vehicles were deployed in large numbers around the scene.
A witness told Xinhua anonymously saying that “we saw a number of charred bodies near the police center and the bodies of five high-ranking army officers brought out of it.”
“The bombs struck an army base and huge clouds of black smoke billowed into the air,” the witness added.
The toll of Friday suicide attacks could rise as ambulances and civilian cars evacuated the army victims to different hospitals and medical centers in the city, according to the local sources.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has claimed responsibility for these bombing attacks.
A spokesman of the AQAP told Xinhua by phone early Friday that they launched wide-scale attacks using two car bombs and ground attacks on an army barracks and the police station, which killed more than 50 soldiers.
He said that their attacks took place a few minutes after a U.S. drone raided a militant car in Eyen Ma’Bad area in Shabwa and killed all on board.
Security operation room of Shabwa told Xinhua that the killed troops of the targeted army barracks were on duty of securing and protecting a nearby oil installation in the southern edge of the province.
The Yemen-based AQAP, which emerged in January 2009, is considered the most strategic threat to the Yemeni government and its neighboring oil-rich Saudi Arabia.