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The New Arab

IS claims suicide bomb attack on Yemeni soldiers

Soldiers have been previously targeted by the Islamic State [AFP]

Date of publication: 18 December, 2016

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An Islamic State group suicide bomber killed at least 40 Yemeni soldiers in the port city of Aden on Sunday, the latest attack claimed by the militant group.

Yemen's Islamic State group affiliate have claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on soldiers in Aden, which left at least 41 people dead.

The militant targeted the soldiers in Aden on Sunday, the latest in a string of deadly bomb attacks against recruits in the war-torn country's second city.   

Military officials and medics said many others were wounded in the attack that targeted a crowd of soldiers gathering to collect their salaries near a base in north-eastern Aden.

The Islamic State group later released footage of the attack as well as an image of the young suicide bomber.

The attacker immersed himself among the soldiers crowding outside the house of the head of special security forces in Aden, Colonel Nasser Sarea, in al-Arish district, near al-Sawlaban base. 

Sarea said the bomber "took advantage of the gathering and detonated his explosives among them, killing 30 soldiers and wounding several others", referring to an initial death toll.

Images from the blast scene showed blood stains and scattered shoes across the sandy ground. 

The attack comes eight days after a similar bombing at al-Sawlaban claimed by the Islamic State group killed 48 soldiers and wounded 29 others.

Yemeni authorities have for months pressed a campaign against militants who remain active in the south and east of the impoverished Arabian peninsula country.

IS and its militant rival al-Qaeda have taken advantage of a conflict between the government and Yemen's Houthi rebels - who control the capital Sanaa - to bolster their presence across much of the south.

The two armed militant groups have carried out a spate of attacks in Aden, Yemen's second city and headquarters of the internationally-recognised government whose forces retook the port city from the Houthis last year.

But al-Qaeda has distanced itself from the 10 December attack, claiming that it tends to avoids "the shedding of any Muslim blood" while focusing on fighting the "Americans and their allies". 

Al-Qaeda has long been the dominant militant force in Yemen, located next to oil-flush Saudi Arabia and key shipping lanes, but experts say IS is seeking to supplant its extremist rival.

Washington regards al-Qaeda's Yemen-based branch as its most dangerous and has kept up a long-running drone war against its commanders.

In August, an IS militant rammed his explosives-laden car into an army recruiting centre in Aden, killing 71 people in the deadliest attack on the city in over a year.

A Saudi-led coalition has since March 2015 supported loyalist forces fighting the Houthis.

The Arab coalition intervened after Houthi rebels allied with troops loyal to Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh seized the capital Sanaa and overran other parts of the country.

 Agencies contributed to this story.

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