x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Aden suicide truck bomb kills nine Yemeni soldiers

Al Qaeda said to be behind bombing that targeted Yemeni army camp, amid raging battles between troops and Islamist militants.

Yemeni men inspect the scene where a suicide bomber driving a pickup truck targeted army personnel carriers at the entrance to a military camp in Aden yesterday. AFP PHOTO / STR
Yemeni men inspect the scene where a suicide bomber driving a pickup truck targeted army personnel carriers at the entrance to a military camp in Aden yesterday. AFP PHOTO / STR

ADEN // A suicide bomber detonated a truck packed with explosives at an army camp in Aden yesterday, killing nine Yemeni soldiers, a military source said, amid raging battles between troops and Islamist militants.

The defence ministry blamed Al Qaeda for the blast, which soldiers said tore through military vehicles as they were leaving the army camp.

A military source said that nine people were killed and 21 others wounded in the blast. Some of the wounded were in serious condition, including four who were evacuated by helicopter to the capital, Sanaa.

A text message from the defence ministry's news service said that the bomber was from Al Qaeda, but put the toll at four killed rather than nine.

The attack comes just days after another bombing in Aden, the main city in Southern Yemen, in which British marine surveyor David Mockett was killed.

A Yemeni intelligence officer said that bombing carried "the fingerprints of Al Qaeda".

Yemen's volatile south has been wracked by fighting between troops and Islamist militants suspected of ties to Al Qaeda, with at least 12 soldiers killed in the past week alone at Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province, north-west of Aden.

Those killings came after Ayad Al Shabwani, a leader of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP], died during fighting near Zinjibar on Tuesday, a military official said, adding that dozens of soldiers had been wounded.

Soldiers said yesterday's blast occurred as troops had prepared to leave the army camp for Abyan province.

One soldier said that the attack was by a suicide bomber whose pickup truck exploded as two personnel carriers were leaving the camp, with the first military vehicle bearing the full brunt of the blast.

Another soldier said that troops had been preparing to leave for Abyan when the vehicle had come "in front of the gate of the camp, and then there was a huge explosion".

A lieutenant colonel was among those killed, according to a medic.

Militants belonging to a group called the "Partisans of Sharia", which has been linked to Al Qaeda, took over much of Zinjibar in May.

Thousands of people have been displaced by fighting in Zinjibar between security forces and the militants.

Yemen's deputy information minister, Abdo Al Janadi, said on Thursday that the United States had provided logistical support to the Yemen military's 25th mechanised brigade, which was until recently besieged by the militants in Zinjibar.

Since January, protesters have been demanding the removal of veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in a hospital in Saudi Arabia since early June for wounds sustained in a blast at his palace.