IS bombs kill 35 in former Qaeda bastion
June 28 2016 12:56 AM
UN special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed (left) and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (second right) attending a meeting of the Yemeni Peace Talks with Yemeni delegations in Kuwait City yesterday.


A wave of suicide bombings targeting Yemeni troops killed at least 35 people yesterday in the southeastern city of Mukalla, which Al Qaeda was driven out of in April, officials said.
The capital of Hadramawt province, Mukalla had been under the control of Al Qaeda for one year before pro-government troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition recaptured the city.
The extremists retain a strong presence in Mukalla, however, and they still control several towns in the interior valley of Wadi Hadramawt.
“Mukalla witnessed five suicide attacks in four areas,” the governor of the vast province, Ahmed Saeed bin Breyk, said.
Three simultaneous bombings hit security checkpoints in the coastal city at sunset, just as troops were breaking their fast, a security official said.
In the first attack, a suicide bomber on a motorbike asked soldiers if he could eat with them before blowing himself up, the official said.
Two other bombers approached soldiers on foot elsewhere in the city before detonating their explosives.
Shortly afterwards, two suicide bombers launched a fourth attack and blew themselves up at the entrance of an army camp, the official said.
In all, the attacks killed 33 soldiers as well as a woman and child who were passing by and wounded 25 other people, said Hadramawt’s health chief Riad al-Jalili.
Last month, the Pentagon said a “very small number” of US military personnel had been deployed around Mukalla in support of pro-government forces.
The US Navy has several ships nearby, including an amphibious assault vessel, the USS Boxer, and two destroyers.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen since 2009, and the Islamic State group have exploited the power vacuum created by the conflict in Yemen to expand their presence in the south and southeast.
In May, a suicide bombing claimed by IS and a second blast killed 47 police in Mukalla – a city of 200,000 people.
There has been no let-up in the longstanding US air war against Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based branch, which it regards as the militant network’s most dangerous.
US strikes have taken out a number of senior Al Qaeda commanders in Yemen during the past year.
The US military said this month that it had killed six Al Qaeda fighters in three separate air strikes in central Yemen.
AQAP “remains a significant threat to the region, the United States and beyond,” US Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, said in a statement.
On June 16, CIA director John Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee AQAP had several thousand “adherents and fighters” while there are also “several hundred” fighters loyal to the IS group in the war-torn country.
In recent months, AQAP and IS militants have also claimed several attacks on government and coalition targets in second city Aden, where the government has its base.

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