Around 70 Yemeni troops, who were held captive, were killed on Tuesday by al-Qaeda militants who had overrun a military base earlier, killing around 129, according to officials and residents.
Residents in the Ja’ar area, the militant’s main stronghold to which the captive troops were taken, said they saw troops hanging them with most of them already decapitated.
Earlier on Sunday the militants attacked a military base an officer called “The Artillery Group “ site, estimated to be one square kilometer, which serves as a food and weapon supply store for four brigades. Around two hundred troops were there when the militants raided the base. “The group [al-Qaeda] launched an attack against the Artillery Group from two different fronts. The first attack came from sea and the second one came from the north. The group managed to take over the entire military site and took the troops by surprise on Sunday at dawn,” a colonel, who was two kms away from the incident, confirmed and has asked to remain anonymous as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
“They killed as many as 40 troops and commandeered one artillery, four tanks, four Katyusha rocket launchers, a 23 caliber cannon, one air-defense, and 13 military armored vehicles. I was two kilometers away with comrades in one of the brigades in Zinjubar. We attempted to back them up them with what we had at our disposal and exchanged artillery fire with the militants. We were able to destroy all heavy weapons taken by them with exception of the 13 armored vehicles. Clashes continued until noon,” the colonel said.
The militants took around 70 captives and used them as human shields in their escape back to Ja’ar, their main stronghold in Abyan. “After the recapture, we found a car packed with explosives.”
Another group of al-Qaeda detonated a car laden with explosives at the 119 Brigade in the al-Koud area, around 15 km North-east of Zinjubar, killing 10 soldiers and injuring an additional 20.
When contacted by mobile, Abu al-Miqdad, an al-Qaeda sympathizer, said “Al-Shabab [youth militants] came from the sea in great numbers and took them [the soldiers] by surprise.”
Adjacent military units in Abyan, strengthened by reinforcements, managed to recapture the military sites occupied by the militants. Injured soldiers were hospitalized in the nearby military Ba Shuaib hospital in Aden province.
A medic at Ba Suhaib hospital said on Monday that 129 troops arrived dead at the hospital and that the number is likely to increase. “Some cases could have survived but they died due to bleeding for too long,” the medic said.
The fighting has driven residents to seek shelter in Aden city, where more than 100,000 displaced people have already taken shelter since the fighting erupted in May.
“We received more than one hundred people from the troubled areas of Ja’ar and Zinjubar. The displaced are arriving very slowly as al-Qaeda have blocked the main road,” said Abdullah Ju’abul, the deputy head of the displaced committee in Aden province.