With last night’s drone strike capping two weeks of heavy US bombardment, it was only a matter of time before al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) began retaliatory strikes. The first came this morning, in Shabwa Province.
Fighters identified as “al-Qaeda elements” attacked a Yemeni military checkpoint near Balhaf, killing the five soldiers within before leaving. Balhaf is Yemen’s liquid natural gas export terminal.
The attack follows reports of an AQAP plot to seize towns along the southern coast just east of Balhaf, a plot that was centered around targeting energy production in the country.
Though Yemen’s government has claimed the AQAP plot “foiled,” today’s attack suggests that the overall goals of the al-Qaeda auxiliary remain unchanged, and that they will continue to hit targets as they are able.