x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Suicide car bombing kills 12 soldiers in Yemen

The attack comes two days after a gunfight near the presidential palace and an apparent assassination attempt on the life of Yemen's defence minister.

ADEN, YEMEN // A suicide bomber on Sunday killed 12 soldiers and a civilian in an attack on a military base in south-east Yemen.

The bombing came just hours after three gunmen were killed when they attacked a checkpoint close to the presidential palace in the capital Sanaa, the same post where five soldiers died on Friday in a similar attack.

The two attacks appeared to be in reprisal for an army offensive against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the contiguous provinces of Shabwa and Abyan, in the south, and Baida in the centre, which has been underway since April 29.

The bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into the military police base in Mukalla, the Hadramawt provincial capital, a security official said, adding that the assailant detonated his explosives next to a barracks.

The attack killed 12 soldiers, the military source said, while a medic said civilian succumbed to wounds sustained in the explosion.

In Sanaa, a dawn attack by “terrorists” on a presidential guard checkpoint at Misbahi roundabout ended in the deaths of three gunmen and a civilian, the interior ministry said.

Sanaa has been on alert for days, with tensions spiking after troops entered Azzan, an Al Qaeda bastion in southern Shabwa province.

The army has said that the offensive has inflicted heavy losses on Al Qaeda.

The interior ministry had warned that “huge losses” in the militant ranks “will push Al Qaeda to commit hysterical and desperate acts”.

Al Qaeda has “dormant cells” in Sanaa, warned military analyst Mohsen Khosruf, saying the attacks on the presidential palace “aim to ease pressure on their comrades in the south”.

He said the army is likely to pursue its campaign in Baida, and Marib, east of Sanaa, where Al Qaeda militants could have taken refuge following the south offensive.

* Agence France-Presse