MILITANTS linked to al-Qaeda yesterday celebrated one of their deadliest attacks on the Yemeni army, parading military hardware seized after they killed more than 110 soldiers, as the Yemeni president swore to pursue the group with full force.
The militants said they had also captured 70 soldiers in a raid after suicide bomb attacks on two military posts outside the southern city of Zinjibar on Sunday, the most lethal attack since president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office last month.
Residents said militants from the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia displayed weapons and military vehicles, extolling their “victory” by megaphone in the streets of Jaar, the town that is their stronghold, about ten miles north of the Abyan provincial capital of Zinjibar.
One resident said: “The festivities have been going on since last night, celebrating what they described as gains for Ansar al-Sharia, and they displayed the loot in front of everyone.”
At least 20 militants also died in the fighting.
Mr Hadi said: “We intend to confront terrorism with full force and … pursue it to the very last hiding place.”
The violence highlights the challenges Mr Hadi faces as he tries to stabilise Yemen after a year of political upheaval that eventually unseated his predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Medics said at least 110 Yemeni soldiers died in the bombings and subsequent clashes between government forces and militants.
Zinjibar – captured by militants last May – has been the site of regular clashes between the army and Islamist fighters.
Last week Ansar al-Sharia said it would unleash a torrent of attacks unless the army pulled its forces away from Zinjibar within ten days.