Sep 20 2013, 6:17am CDT | by IANS
Aden (Yemen), Sep 20 — The death toll in three suicide car bombings that ripped through a key military site and police centre in Yemen's southeastern province of Shabwa Friday has risen to at least 65.
"At least 65 army and security soldiers died and 38 others were wounded in three simultaneous car bombing attacks that targeted the police station headquarters and army-held sites in Azzan area in Shabwa," a provincial security official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Medical officials in a nearby military hospital confirmed the casualty figures to Xinhua.
An earlier report Friday said that three explosives-rigged cars went off at a military site in Azzan, killing at least 40 soldiers and wounding dozens of others.
An army source said that the security forces, backed by heavy armoured vehicles, have been deployed in large numbers around the scene.
A witness told Xinhua that he "saw a number of charred bodies near the police centre and the bodies of five high-ranking army officers brought out of it".
"The bombs struck an army base and huge clouds of black smoke billowed into the air," the witness added.
The toll in the suicide attacks could rise as ambulances and civilian cars evacuated the victims to different hospitals and medical centres in the city, according to local sources.
A official in the security operations room in Shabwa told Xinhua that the troops killed in the army barracks were responsible for securing and protecting a nearby oil installation in the southern edge of the province.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has claimed responsibility for the bombings.
An AQAP spokesman told Xinhua over the phone that it launched the attacks a few minutes after a US drone attacked a car carrying militants in the Eyen Ma'Bad area in Shabwa and killed all those on board.
The Yemen-based AQAP, which emerged in January 2009, is considered the most strategic threat to the Yemeni government and its neighboring oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
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