Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate fired rockets at the U.S. section of the country’s largest military air base on Thursday in retaliation for the recent rescue mission to free American hostage Luke Somers, media reports said. The news comes after the group blamed the U.S. for the deaths of Somers and a South African hostage, who were killed in the failed rescue attempt.
Ansar al-Shariah, an al Qaeda affiliate, reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack and said that it had fired six rockets at the Al Anad air base, located in the province of Lahj in southern Yemen that is mostly occupied by forces from the U.S. and Europe.
Yemen's Defense Ministry officials could not confirm the number of casualties but said that some soldiers were injured, CNN reported. An official reportedly said that the rockets failed to hit the desired targets. One rocket reportedly exploded near an oil-storage facility but did not cause any major damage.
Somers, 33, and South African teacher Pierre Korkie, 56, were shot by their kidnappers during the U.S. raid on Saturday in the arid Wadi Abadan district of Shabwa.
U.S. President Barack Obama "and his government knew the fairness of our demands, and they could have at least negotiated with us about them, or been sincere in this matter," Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, an official of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), said in a video published Thursday by the SITE Intelligence Group, Reuters reported. "Despite our warning to him not to act foolishly ... he chose a military solution, which failed before and failed once again."
In a video obtained by SITE earlier this month, the al Qaeda affiliate had threatened to execute the British-born American journalist if its demands were not met by the U.S.
“We warn Obama and the American government of the consequences of proceeding ahead in any other foolish action,” al-Ansi reportedly said in the video published on Dec. 3. Somers was reportedly abducted in September 2013 from the streets of Sana'a, the capital of Yemen.
Last month, U.S. Special Operations forces and Yemeni troops made an unsuccessful attempt to free Somers, but managed to free eight other hostages.