February 29, 2012
AL-Qaida has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a presidential palace in Yemen that had killed 26 soldiers.
"The hero martyr Abu Muhjen al-Sayari attacked with his bomb-laden car Republican Guard troops inside the presidential palace in Mukalla, Hadramawt's capital, killing nearly 30 officers and soldiers and wounding more than 50," an al-Qaida statement released yesterday on jihadist forums said.
The attack was timed with "the last chapters of this farce of power transition in Yemen, by which the United States aims to steal the fruits of the revolt," said the statement.
On Saturday a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle outside a presidential palace in the Hadramawt provincial capital Mukalla, overshadowing the swearing-in ceremony of the first new president in Sanaa since 1978.
The attack came as Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi took the oath in the capital Sanaa to succeed strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The statement signed by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) - al-Qaida's branch in Yemen - said the operation was "a clear message to the US ambassador" after alleged remarks he made "about restructuring the Yemeni army."
"This is a message to say that the US project in Yemen will not succeed and that our operations will target this project and its tools wherever they may be," said the statement.
A Yemeni military official has said that Saturday's attack bore the hallmark of al-Qaida and that the bomber "could be Mohammed al-Sayari," a Saudi originally from Hadramawt.
The same source said that no high-ranking officials were in the palace when the bomber struck.
The palace is guarded by troops of the elite Republican Guard, who are under the command of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's son Ahmed.
In an address to the nation straight after being sworn in to succeed Saleh, Mr Hadi vowed to press the fight against al-Qaida and restore security across his impoverished nation.
"It is a patriotic and religious duty to continue the battle against al-Qaida," the new president said.
"If we don't restore security, the only outcome will be chaos."
Yemen is the ancestral homeland of slain al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.