The unique weapons of Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda has been stepping up suicide attacks in response to US and Yemeni army actions against it, writes Nasser Arrabyee
Suicide bombings have now become almost the only weapons that are available to Al-Qaeda in Yemen, as a result of increased American drone attacks from the sky and the shelling of Yemeni government troops and tribesmen from the land and sea.
Al-Qaeda has thus decided to use weapons that no one else has, encouraging young men who dream of going to paradise to turn themselves into human suicide bombers.
Three suicide bombings took place in almost the same geographical areas in less than 24 hours this week, with at least four Al-Qaeda operatives being killed when their car bomb exploded before they reached their destination on 5 June.
The bombing took place inside the coastal town of Shuqrah in the Gulf of Aden, which is one of Al-Qaeda's strongholds in the southern Yemeni province of Abyan. It came less than one day after Al-Qaeda had sent three suicide bombers in an attempt to stop troops and tribesmen from advancing to their self-styled Emirate of Shuqrah.
Two suicide bombers, one of them dressed in women's traditional clothes, drove a car containing a bomb to the area of Umm Surah, about 40km north of Shuqrah, where they blew themselves up, killing four tribesmen in addition to themselves.
A further suicide bomber was discovered before he blew himself up in another group of gunmen, the explosives wrapped around his body exploding after he was shot dead. The bomber was a Somali national, according to tribesmen participating in the fight against Al-Qaeda in areas north of Shuqrah.
Meanwhile, the Yemeni army closed seven main roads leading to the town of Shuqrah from the east, west, and north, the southern roads heading directly for the Gulf of Aden.
Barricades were placed across the roads, and the army said that it would strike any car moving on the roads from 6pm to 6am every day, starting from 4 June.
In response, Al-Qaeda said that it would carry out suicide operations inside the capital Sanaa against the US, UK, and Saudi embassies, among others, if the Yemeni army and tribesmen insisted on storming their emirates of Shuqrah, Zinjubar and Jaar.
The three towns are now almost under the army's complete control, though Al-Qaeda has continued to make threats against the country's military and security officials, saying that they will be targeted in Sanaa and other cities.
Al-Qaeda had earlier said that minister of defense Mohamed Nasser Ahmed, who has been supervising the campaign against Al-Qaeda in Yemen, was the target of Monday's car bombing in Umm Surah.
"We will not keep silent. What happened on May 21 near the presidential palace was just the first message," said an Al-Qaeda source, referring to the suicide bombing that killed 100 soldiers and injured 300 others in the parade square in the capital Sanaa.
Meanwhile, tribal and religious leaders that are in contact with Al-Qaeda and are carrying out mediation efforts said that Al-Qaeda fighters could leave the towns of Zinjubar, Jaar and Shuqrah, but that this was unlikely to mean the end of their activities.
"Because of the campaign against them, I am expecting them to leave the three towns, but then they will move to the mountains instead," said Sheikh Abdallah from Jaar.
"Then the problem will continue. There should be dialogue with them, if we want to end the problem," Sheikh Abdullah said, who works as a mosque preacher in Jaar.