Yemenis run for cover as smoke rises following a car bomb attack at an army checkpoint at the entrance to the town of Hajr on July 18, 2016
Yemenis run for cover as smoke rises following a car bomb attack at an army checkpoint at the entrance to the town of Hajr on July 18, 2016 © Abdulabbar Bajubair - AFP
Yemenis run for cover as smoke rises following a car bomb attack at an army checkpoint at the entrance to the town of Hajr on July 18, 2016
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AFP
Last updated: January 1, 1970

5 Yemen soldiers dead in ex-Qaeda stronghold twin bombing: army

Suicide bombings killed 11 people Monday at two army checkpoints in Al-Qaeda's former stronghold in southeastern Yemen, officials said, in attacks claimed by the jihadist group.

One attacker drove his bomb-laden truck into a checkpoint in a western district of Hadramawt's provincial capital Mukalla, security officials told AFP.

The second attacker simultaneously blew up his vehicle at an army checkpoint in the nearby town of Hajr, some 15 kilometres (nine miles) to the west of Mukalla, the sources said.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the two attacks in a report on its Telegram account.

AQAP said "dozens were killed and wounded" from forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and it posted photographs of the two bombers.

The commander of Hadramawt's second military region, General Faraj Salmeen, had earlier told AFP that the second bombing struck the centre of the city, blaming the attack on "terrorists".

Eleven people were killed and 18 were wounded in the twin bombings, said Riad Jariri, head of the health department in Mukalla.

Four civilians were among those killed, he told AFP.

Mukalla and surrounding towns were under the control of AQAP for one year until pro-government troops backed by a Saudi-led coalition recaptured the city in April.

In March, a US air strike on an Al-Qaeda training camp in Hajr killed more than 70 jihadists, provincial officials said.

Yemen has been gripped by a devastating conflict that escalated in March 2015 when Saudi-led air strikes began against Iran-backed Huthi rebels after the insurgents seized northern and central parts of the country including the capital, Sanaa.

The violence has allowed extremists such as AQAP and the Islamic State group to extend their influence and launch scores of attacks on security forces.

Last month, IS claimed a wave of suicide bombings targeting Yemeni troops in Mukalla that killed at least 42 people.

The Pentagon said in May that a "very small number" of US military personnel had been deployed around Mukalla in support of pro-government forces.

Washington considers the Yemen-based AQAP to be the network's deadliest franchise and its drone strikes have taken out a number of senior commanders of the group in the country over the past year.

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