SANAA, Yemen — Taking advantage of heavy fog, al-Qaida militants launched coordinated attacks on military barracks in a southern Yemen province on Friday, killing at least 38 troops and wounded dozens, a military official said.
The dawn attacks in Shabwa province, a known al-Qaida stronghold, surprised and caught the soldiers unprepared, said Maj. Mohammed Nasser.
Yemeni authorities have been leading a war against al-Qaida's local branch, also known as the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, considered by Washington as one of the world's most dangerous terror groups.
In Friday's attacks, the militants first tried to storm barracks in three military encampments, in Maysaa, Kamp and al-Ain areas, Nasser told The Associated Press.
At the Kamp site, the attackers first overpowered the guards outside the barracks, then rammed a suicide car bomb into the camp. Most of the casualties among the troops took place in this attack.
By mid-morning, heavy clashes were still underway near the third location, the al-Ain military encampment, where militants had detonated a car bomb outside the barracks.
Nasser said eight militants had also died in the fighting so far and six soldiers and five military vehicles had been seized by the attackers.
Most of the soldiers from the Kamp barracks were in charge of guarding oil wells in the area.