Center for Strategic Communication

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula launched a complex suicide assault against a Security Department headquarters in the port city of Aden in southwestern Yemen today. Security forces repelled this latest AQAP suicide assault against security forces in Yemen’s largest cities.

The attack began as a suicide bomber drove a vehicle laden with explosives into the main entrance of the Security Department in Aden at 2:00 a.m. local time, according to SABA, the state-run news agency. The blast collapsed a building at the main gate and badly damaged nearby buildings. Then several vehicles filled with AQAP fighters attempted to breach the main gate but were repelled by security forces.

The military claimed that “two soldiers from the special forces and five of the Security Department” were wounded during the attack, according to SABA. Unnamed officials claimed that three soldiers were killed, Al Jazeera reported.

Military officials also claimed that two of the attackers were captured and several more were wounded but escaped during the fighting.

While the Security Department headquarters was under attack, AQAP fighters reportedly shelled two police stations in the city.

AQAP is known to have a presence in Aden, and has carried out several suicide attacks and assassinations in the city. The most prominent suicide attack took place in June 2012, when a suicide bomber killed Brigadier General Salem Ali al Quton. The general was the commander of Yemen’s southern military district and had directed the offensive that cleared AQAP from the major cities and towns in Abyan and Shabwa provinces. Quton was killed when a suicide bomber detonated outside the general’s home. AQAP claimed credit for the attack and accused the US of directing the war against the terror group in Yemen.

In August 2012, an AQAP suicide assault team targeted an intelligence headquarters in Aden, and killed 14 soldiers during the sophisticated attack.

In another suicide attack, in June 2011, a suicide bomber killed nine Yemeni soldiers in an attack on a military convoy in Aden.

The US has conducted at least one drone strike in Aden. On June 25, 2012, the unmanned Predators or Reapers killed an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula commander and two fighters in an airstrike near the southern port city.

Today’s suicide assault follows the Dec. 5 attack by a large suicide team of AQAP fighters at the Ministry of Defense in the capital of Sana’a. The suicide assault resulted in the deaths of 52 people, including foreign doctors and nurses, and 11 AQAP fighters. AQAP claimed that the assault targeted the US-run “operation rooms” for the drone program in Yemen.

AQAP has continued to launch suicide assaults, bombings, and assassinations throughout Yemen. Some of the more high-profile suicide assaults include: the Sept. 20 suicide assaults against three military bases in Shabwa province; a raid on military headquarters in Mukallah in Hadramout on Sept. 30 (the base was held by the AQAP fighters for days before the military retook control); and the Oct. 18 suicide assault on a military training center in Abyan.

The suicide assault, or coordinated attack using multiple suicide bombers and an assault team, is a tactic used by al Qaeda and its allies, including the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Suicide assault are commonly executed in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia.