By Colum Lynch
UNITED NATIONS — A reinvigorated al-Qaeda has made “alarming” advances in Yemen, expanding its military control over several southern towns and launching a series of brazen attacks that threaten the U.S.-backed political transition there, a senior U.N. envoy warned the Security Council in a confidential briefing earlier this week.
“The scale of these attacks serves as a stark reminder of the security threat posed by al-Qaeda,” Jamal Benomar, the U.N. special envoy for Yemen, told the 15-nation council Wednesday, according to a copy of the briefing notes obtained by The Washington Post. “Despite all counterterrorism efforts, al-Qaeda in Yemen has not retreated.”
Members of Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, as the group’s Yemen branch is known, have been “intensifying their attacks” against government targets since the election last month of Yemen’s new President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Benomar told the council. Hadi, the former vice president, replaced Ali Abdullah Saleh after 33 years in power in a transition brokered by Arab leaders and supported by the United States.
On inauguration day, Feb. 25, al-Qaeda struck a presidential palace in the provincial capital of Mukalla, killing 26 officers. More recently, Benomar said, al-Qaeda has launched a series of attacks on military bases in the south, killing more than 180 soldiers and capturing heavy weapons. Dozens of soldiers, he added, were reportedly paraded through the town square of Jaar, which has been held by al-Qaeda for several months.
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