September 20, 2013 - 13:37 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Coordinated attacks by al-Qaeda fighters in a southern province of Yemen reportedly killed at least 38 soldiers and wounded dozens more on Friday, Sept 20.
According to Al Jazeera America, Maj. Raed Mohammed Nasser said the attacks took place at dawn in Shabwa province. He said the militants, taking advantage of heavy fog, surprised the troops in barracks at bases in the Maysaa and Kamp areas.
Nasser said heavy clashes were still underway near a third military encampment, in the al-Ain area, where militants detonated a car bomb outside the barracks.
Nasser told the Associated Press that eight militants have also died in the fighting so far.
Yemeni authorities are leading a war against al-Qaeda's local branch, considered by Washington to be one of the world's most dangerous armed groups.
Maintaining stability in impoverished Yemen is a priority for Washington and Gulf states because of its location next to major oil shipping routes and Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is seen by Western countries as one of the most dangerous branches of the terrorist group because it has attempted to carry out bombings on international airlines.
The group and allied local fighters 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 last year, but have continued to stage attacks against government and military targets.