185 troops killed in al Qaeda attack
SANAA | The death toll from an al Qaeda assault on a military base in southern Yemen has risen to 185 government soldiers, military and medical officials said Tuesday.
Many soldiers’ bodies were found mutilated, and some were headless.
The scale of the army’s defeat in Sunday’s battle, which appears to be the worst-ever suffered by Yemen’s military in its 10-month campaign against al Qaeda in the southern province of Abyan, deals a major blow to efforts by newly inaugurated Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to uproot the militant movement from the region.
The surprise attack and the mutilations have left government troops “fearful” and with “low morale,” according to a senior military official who was part of the defeated force.
Another 55 soldiers were captured and paraded through a nearby town by the militants, who lost 32 of their fighters in the assault.
Medical officials in the area confirmed the latest death toll and said some of the bodies of soldiers recovered were missing their heads and bore multiple stab wounds.