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AQAP claims responsibility for Yemen attacks

By Hakim Almasmari, For CNN
March 8, 2012 -- Updated 0231 GMT (1031 HKT)
Yemeni General Ali Salah, deputy chief of staff for military operations, visits soldiers in Yemen's restive Abayan province on March 6.
Yemeni General Ali Salah, deputy chief of staff for military operations, visits soldiers in Yemen's restive Abayan province on March 6.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula issues a statement claiming responsibility
  • The attacks in the state of Abyan killed 187, security officials say
  • An investigation is under way into how al Qaeda was able to be so successful

(CNN) -- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has taken responsibility for a series of attacks on Yemeni security forces in recent days that killed more than 180 troops.

The militant group issued a statement -- which CNN received a copy of Wednesday -- describing the attacks.

"The mujahedeen held a series of 'the cutting of the tail' military operations on the forces of Sanaa's government on the outskirts of the city of Zunjubar in Abyan state," the statement said.

The attacks were considered the bloodiest launched against Yemeni forces in recent days in which an estimated 200 troops were killed in three provinces.

The statement said the militant group's fighters succeeded in seizing large cache of weapons including heavy artillery and tanks.

A delegation from the Yemen Military Committee, the highest security authority in the country, reached Abyan on Wednesday as part of the investigation into how al Qaeda has able to score constant victories over the past week in the province.

"We told the committee that we were tricked by our superiors and the government did not help us while we were surrounded and being killed," one of the injured troops told the fact-finding committee. "We were left to die and seek the mercy of the terrorist militants."

The attacks in Abyan, which started Saturday, resulted in the deaths of 187 troops and injuries to at least 135, two security officials in the province told CNN.

The statement also claimed responsibility for an airplane explosion inside Yemen's air force headquarters in Sanaa.

"The mujahedeen detonated a military airplane of the Yemeni Air Force in Al-Dailamy military base which was carrying weapons for Adan and Hadramout. The detonation has been made after infiltrating into the base and planting an IED inside the plane," the statement read.

President Abdurabu Hadi vowed on Tuesday to fight al Qaeda and retake areas of Abyan that have been taken over by the militants.

"We expected obstacles, but the president will do all in his power to uproot the terror militants from the country. This is a promise he gave the people," said Yahya al-Arassi, the president's spokesman.

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