02:04 - Source: CNN
Al Qaeda in Yemen poses terror threat

Story highlights

Dual car bombs target Houthi fighters in the Yemeni city of Hodiedah

Medics and a Yemeni official say at least 9 Houthi fighters were killed, and the toll may rise

Al Qaeda claims responsibility; it has stepped up attacks on minority Houthis of late

Sanaa, Yemen CNN —  

Violence wracked Yemen yet again Thursday – this time in the form of dual car bomb attacks purportedly carried out by al Qaeda militants targeting fighters from the minority, albeit powerful, Houthi group.

At least nine Houthi fighters died in the attacks on a strategic Houthi camp at the airport of western Yemen’s port city of Hodiedah, a local Interior Ministry official and medics told CNN.

Medics expected the death toll to rise as some of about a dozen people injured in the attacks are in critical condition.

The bloodshed speaks to the dangers and instability in the Arab nation, though this time not involving anyone with the Yemeni government. Instead, it is Houthis – followers of a sect of Shia Islam in a country where Sunni Muslims are the majority – who find themselves in the fight.

Based largely in northern Yemen, members of the group also known as Ansarullah have been increasingly asserting themselves in the country. This included weeks of large anti-government protest in the capital, Sanaa, during which Houthi fighters attacked state TV headquarters and seized strategic military positions.

Yemen in midst of an upheaval

Scores died in resulting violence, and two Yemeni prime ministers resigned in two weeks before the powerful rebel group and representatives of major political parties signed a ceasefire in September.

But even with that resolved, a Houthi adversary – al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terror group whose members are Sunni Muslims – remains.

That group, also known as AQAP, claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack on its Twitter account.

20 children among 31 killed in car bombings

Thursday’s violence marked the latest of scores of clashes between Houthi and al Qaeda fighters. The Houthis have managed to defeat al Qaeda on numerous fronts, including taking the terror group’s stronghold of Radaa in October.

Al Qaeda has stepped up its attacks on Houthi targets since then, killing hundreds of Houthis and innocent civilians in persistent attacks.

Journalist Hakim Almasmari reported from Sanaa, and CNN’s Greg Botelho wrote from Atlanta.