The military leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot apologized Sunday for an attack earlier this month on a hospital attached to the Yemeni Defense Ministry in the capital Sanaa.
Qassim al-Rimi, the military commander of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), said in a video posted on-line that the organization will compensate the victims' families and patients.
"Our target was not the hospital... The main aim was the room that commanded a joint U.S.-Yemeni operation that included drone strikes against our group," said Qassim al-Rimi.
The terrorist group said it targeted the defense ministry complex because it "proved that it accommodated drone control rooms and American experts."
It said any security institutions that facilitate the United States against al-Qaida are "legitimate targets."
Yemen's supreme security committee said that suicide attacks on Yemeni defense ministry on Dec. 5 left 56 people dead, including patients and foreign medics from the Philippines, Germany, Vietnam and India.
Earlier this month, al-Qaida's offshoot, locally known as Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack in Yemen in 18 months on its Twitter account.
The AQAP, taking advantage of Yemen's unrest in 2011, seized several southern towns before they were driven out in June 2012 by the Yemeni army.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's administration has intensified efforts to crack down on the militants with the support of drone strikes as part of a U.S.-backed anti-terrorism campaign.