Yemen’s military announced a new offensive against the Bayda Province today, insisting it would root members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) out of the area, just days after deploying troops to the Bayda town of Radda.
The checkpoints in Radda were set up days ago, but after the announcement of the offensive a suicide car bomber showed up at one, on the outskirts of town, detonating his vehicle and killing 11 soldiers.
Yemen’s government says they believe three Western hostages may be held in Bayda. The hostages were captured in December by gunmen, and were rumored to have been sold to AQAP, which denies having them.
Radda, has been contested by AQAP fighters repeatedly, and even came under their total control briefly in early 2012. The fighting in the town has chiefly been between two tribal leaders, one AQAP-linked and one not, but the addition of the military to the area could attract more fighters from the surrounding area.