SANAA, Sept 20: Suspected Al Qaeda fighters killed at least 56 soldiers and police in a wave of dawn attacks on Friday, the deadliest day for Yemeni security forces since militant strongholds fell last year.

The militant assaults came in the southern province of Shabwa, a bastion of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the scene of regular US drone attacks targeting militants.

Military and government officials said there were four attacks in all, including one on a key gas export terminal that was foiled.

Al Qaeda’s offensive came a month after officials said militant plans to attack oil and gas terminals had been scuppered following intelligence eavesdropping on a call from the organisation’s overall chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Thirty-eight soldiers were killed in Friday’s deadliest single attack, on an army camp responsible for ensuring security at Shabwa oilfields, the sources said.

“Troops clashed with gunmen at the camp entrance, before a suicide attacker in a bomb-laden vehicle forced his way into the camp where his car exploded, killing 38 soldiers,” said a government official in Ataq, the provincial capital.

Military sources confirmed the toll.

Simultaneously, “a suicide bomber in a car blew himself up before reaching his target — an army checkpoint” in the nearby Al-Nushaima area, a military official said, adding that 10 soldiers were killed in that blast.

“Soldiers were captured” in Al-Nushaima, witnesses said by phone.—AFP

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