Al-Qaeda gunmen seize military base in Yemen

SANAA, Yemen: Suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen have overrun a key military base in Yemen’s largest province, killing three soldiers and holding captive an unknown number of officers and men, security officials said on Monday.
A colonel who works at the base in Hadramawt province but who was not there when it came under attack on Monday says militants have taken control of the headquarters of the Yemeni army’s 2nd Division in the city of Al-Mukalla after a short gunbattle with soldiers.
“They caused confusion because soldiers at the base thought they were being attacked by members of the Central Security apparatus,” the official said.
A resident said he heard several big explosions and that the army cordoned off the area leading up to the military base.
Officials say the military has sent in reinforcements and troops are now surrounding the compound.
The officials and the colonel spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Yemen is battling one of the most active branches of Al-Qaeda, known as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has carried out a number of foiled attempts to attack US targets, including airliners.
On September 20, suspected Al-Qaeda militants killed dozens of Yemeni soldiers and policemen in attacks in the south of the country, which officials described as the deadliest for more than a year. 
Dozens of Yemeni security and military officers have been killed in the past two years, many by bombs planted in their cars or drive-by shootings, often blamed on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or affiliated groups.
Intelligence pointing to an impending attack by AQAP prompted the United States and other Western countries to close many of their embassies temporarily in the Middle East, Africa and Asia last month.
The militants took advantage of political chaos in Yemen during the Arab Spring in 2011 to seize control of some towns and surrounding areas in the south of the country.
They were beaten back by Yemeni forces with assistance from the United States and scattered into small groups spread across the country’s rugged, remote southern terrain.

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