11 Yemen soldiers killed in car bombing
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A car bomb exploded Monday next to a military checkpoint in a central town where Yemeni government forces waged their first offensive targeting al-Qaida militants in the area, killing 11 soldiers, security and military officials said.
The officials said that the explosion rocked the town of Radda, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of the capital, Sanaa, when a suicide bomber blew up his car in an attack that bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida.
The bombing came on the same day that the military launched a wide offensive against al-Qaida in surrounding Bayda province, which has become a militant stronghold. Al-Qaida briefly seized Radda last year, giving them their closest ever foothold to the capital, where it is thought to be operating sleeper cells.
A military official said Monday that the first day of shelling left six dead — four from al-Qaida and two from the army. Four other soldiers were wounded.
Government forces have been deployed to Radda for several days, and tribal leaders had first asked the military to postpone the operation for 48 hours so they could try to persuade the militants to leave town. The military launched its assault after it appeared efforts toward a peaceful solution failed.