Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 October 2019

ISIS claims responsibility for suicide bombing in Aden

Attack on security forces underlines fears of growing terrorist threat

Security forces man a checkpoint in Aden, where an ISIS suicide bombing killed three troops on August 30, 2019. Reuters
Security forces man a checkpoint in Aden, where an ISIS suicide bombing killed three troops on August 30, 2019. Reuters

A deadly suicide bombing claimed by ISIS in Yemen's southern port city of Aden on Friday has reinforced fears that terror groups are staging a resurgence.

Three members of the Security Belt force were killed when a suicide bomber rammed a motorcycle packed with explosives into a patrol vehicle at a roundabout in the Daar Saad district in northern Aden. Ten civilians at a nearby market were wounded in the blast, a security source told The National.

ISIS claimed the attack in a statement issued by its propaganda arm Amaq.

A roadside bombing targeted a a convoy carrying a Security Belt commander in central Aden in a separate attack on Friday. The commander was unhurt but five of his guards were injured in the blast, which was not claimed by any group.

The bombings came a day after the UAE said it had carried out air strikes at Aden's airport against "armed groups affiliated with terrorist organisations" and warned of a increase in terrorist activity.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation said the strikes were a response to an attack on the Arab Coalition supporting Yemen's government against Houthi rebels.

“The UAE intelligence departments observed over the past weeks that terrorist cells started to accelerate their activity across Yemeni territories in a way that poses menacing threat to the strides made by the Arab Coalition to uproot the scourge of terrorism in Yemen," the ministry said.

"This also threatens the efforts made by the coalition to combat the Houthi militia, which is benefiting from the spread of instability and terrorism.”

Al Qaeda and ISIS carried out frequent attacks in Aden in the years immediately after it was liberated from Houthi rebels at the start of Yemen's civil war in 2015. The Saudi-led coalition helped restore security in the city and has targeted Al Qaeda and ISIS in other areas of southern Yemen. UAE forces and Yemeni forces trained by the UAE continue to target Al Qaeda and extremist militants in Yemen.

The campaign against the Houthis and extremist groups have been disrupted by infighting between forces allied to the government and those affiliated to the Southern Transitional Council.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have called for the government and the STC to attend reconciliation talks in Jeddah so that they can resume their alliance against the Houthi rebels. Although both sides have agreed to take part, the talks have been delayed by repeated clashes in Aden and other southern cities. The STC had voiced its readiness for talks but government-affiliated forces restarted fighting on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the security forces in Aden said they had learnt that terrorists were infiltrating the city just days before Friday's attacks.

“We received security information that two terror cells sneaked to the northern outskirts of the city in the last couple of days, taking advantage of the state of instability the city has been in,” Captain Abdulrahman Al Naqeeb told The National.

He said security forces had made arrests in connection with the ISIS attack.

“A number of suspected elements were captured by our forces after the attack, some of them were found complicit through providing the terror militants with information,” he said.

The fighting between the government and STC forces has also allowed Al Qaeda to make a resurgence in Shabwa province, where the extremists shot dead a soldier from the UAE-trained Elite Force in Al Hawtah city on Thursday, according to Ahmed Al Hur, a journalist based in Shabwa.

The Elite Force has played a significant role in countering terrorism in the province in recent years but was forced to give up its base in the city and other positions to the extremists amid clashes with pro-government forces that arrived in Shabwa from Marib province last week, a resident of Al Hawtah told The National.

“Militants from Al Qaeda came back from Bayda province and took the Elite Force base. They move freely and have raised their black flag in the base,” the resident said.

The Elite Force had driven Al Qaeda out of Shabwa after repeated offensives against their strongholds in the province's mountainous districts in the past two years.

“Our city suffered a lot before the Elite Force drove Al Qaeda militants from our area. They killed many civilians accusing them of espionage and for working with the enemy – the USA – to expose their hideouts to the US drones,” said another resident who asked to be identified only as Abu Dhya.

“Now as they returned back to area, they have started tracking the soldiers who are serving in the Elite Force," he said. "They will keep chasing our sons and kill them one by one as a revenge for their defeat.“

Updated: August 31, 2019 07:19 PM

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