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Suicide car bomb kills at least seven outside Yemen's presidential palace

Despite the arrival of military reinforcements a day earlier an "IS" militant detonated a car bomb outside Yemen's presidential palace. The Saudi-backed government is battling Shiite hardliners and Sunni jihadists.

An "Islamic State" (IS) militant, seemingly a Dutch national, blew himself up outside the presidential palace in Yemen, killing at least seven people, with one report saying as many as 12 were dead.

The suicide car bombing occurred near the residence of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. He was in his office at the time of the blast, and a short time later a helicopter was seen lifting off from the palace.

"A suicide car bomb targeted a security checkpoint about 500 meters (roughly 1,640 feet) from the Maashiq palace," an unnamed official said. "The majority of the casualties are civilians."

A Dutch national?

In claiming responsibility for the attack, IS posted a statement on Twitter: "Martyrdom-seeker Abu Hanifa al-Hollandi... detonated his explosives-laden vehicle at the presidential palace."

The al-Hollandi alias used for the bomber by IS seemed to suggest he hailed from the Netherlands.

Jemen Aden Präsidentschaftspalast Autobombe

The aftermath of Yemen's suicide car bomb blast

The blast damaged at least six vehicles and a nearby mosque, according to witnesses.

It is the latest in a series of attacks

aimed at Yemen's embattled president and his government. Already forced to flee the historical capital, Sanaa, in 2014, after it was overrun by Houthi Shiite rebels, Hadi continues to be a target of attack, even in the more isolated seaside city of Aden – both by Iranian backed Shiites and Sunni jihadists, including IS and al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula.

Last October, 15 people were killed when an IS suicide bomber attacked a hotel housing the government in Aden, while seven more were killed at a Houthi-run mosque in Sanaa.

An Iranian proxy war

But the overriding conflict between Hadi's

Saudi-backed Sunni forces and Iranian-backed Houthis

is what has torn the country apart and claimed almost 6,000 lives, almost half of them civilians. The Houthis are also allied with the remaining forces loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Armored vehicles from

the Saudi-led military coalition

were deployed around the presidential palace after the blast.

The attack comes a day after Hadi received a new round of military support from the United Arab Emirates in the form of dozens of armored vehicles and troops, which arrived at Aden's port. Security officials said the reinforcements are part of a plan to tackle the ongoing security problems.

The primary target of the attack appeared to be the security checkpoint and a convoy. Initial reports that the line of cars was carrying Aden's governor, Aidarus al-Zubaidi, proved unfounded. Subsequent reports said the convoy at the security checkpoint was that of an unnamed businessman.

bik/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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