‘IS Bomber’ kills 71 army recruits in Yemen
The army, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, is training young recruits to join its nationwide war against Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies, as well as Sunni jihadists.
Aden is the temporary base of Yemen’s internationally recognised government, which was forced into exile after Iran-backed insurgents seized Sanaa and other parts of the war-torn country.
Security officials said the attacker drove the car bomb into a gathering of recruits at a school in the north of the port city. The recruits were among 5,000 newly enrolled soldiers being trained to fight the Huthi rebels in the north along the border with Saudi Arabia, military sources said.
Although the complex was locked as recruits registered inside, the attacker drove in when the gate was opened for a delivery vehicle, officials said.
Witnesses said some recruits were buried when a roof collapsed after the blast which left a gaping hole on the building’s facade. Debris was scattered around the complex and nearby buildings were damaged. The assault killed at least 71 people and wounded 98, medical sources said.
They could not immediately verify whether all those who died were army recruits. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Twitter that its hospital in Aden “received 45 dead and at least 60 wounded” following the explosion.
Aden has experienced a wave of bombings and shootings targeting officials and security forces. Attacks in the city are often claimed by jihadists from either Al-Qaeda or IS, which have both taken advantage of the chaos in Yemen to make gains in the south and southeast.
IS claimed Monday’s bombing on its official propaganda outlet, Amaq. Yemeni authorities have trained hundreds of soldiers in the city over the past two months as part of operations to retake neighbouring southern provinces from jihadists. Earlier this month, government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition entered Abyan’s provincial capital of Zinjibar. Troops retook other towns across Abyan but have been met by fierce resistance in the key Al-Qaeda stronghold of Al-Mahfid, security sources said. The militants still have a presence in areas surrounding the recaptured towns and control large parts of neighbouring Shabwa province, the sources say.
The Arab coalition battling the rebels and their allies in Yemen has also been providing troops with air cover throughout their war against the jihadists. The United States has carried out numerous drone strikes against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operatives in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March last year and have helped government forces push the rebels out of Aden and four other southern provinces since July 2015.