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IS suicide bombers kill dozens in Yemen

May 24, 2016

The blasts occurred at a military base in the provisional capital of Aden - dozens were injured in the attack. The UN says 2.8 million Yemenis have been displaced since the fighting began.

Jemen Anschlag in Aden
Image: Reuters/F. Salman

A pair of suicide bomb attacks Monday killed at least 40 people and injured dozens more in Aden, Yemen's provisional capital.

The "Islamic State" (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack, which began when a suicide bomber killed at least 34 new army recruits who had gathered at the Badr base in Aden's Khormaksar district.

IS issued a statement online, saying one of its fighters detonated an explosives belt among "apostate soldiers" at a recruitment center, followed by the bombing at a gate of the Badr base.

A local resident described the attack scene as "horrible," saying body parts had been blown dozens of yards (meters) away.

Yemen - Hope for peace?

"They came to complete the procedure of their recruitment and receive their first salary," he said, speaking of the young men who had gathered outside the army center.

The second attack, inside the army base, killed seven more people. Conflicting reports put the number of wounded at 38 and 60.

The European Union condemned the attacks in a statement, saying they "highlight the importance of restoring peace and the rule of law throughout the country."

Attacks come amid peace talks

The attack came on a day when the government resumed peace talks with the country's original rebels. Houthi militants, supported by Iran, overran the capital of Sanaa last year, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.

Hadi subsequently returned to establish a provisional capital in the port city of Aden.

Saudi Arabia lead an Arab coalition that began a bombing campaign in Yemen in March 2015. Their aim had been to oust Houthi rebels and pave the way for a return to power of President Hadi.

Despite a fierce, and at times indiscriminate, air campaign, the Houthi rebels could not be routed, forcing the two sides to the negotiating table. More than 6,400 people have been killed in the fighting, and 2.8 million have been displaced, according to the United Nations.

The world body says 82 percent of Yemen's population is in need of aid.

With much of the country left ungoverned IS militants moved in to fill the vacuum, but they have been competing with Houthi rebels and al-Qaida jihadists, who have long been present in Yemen. A peace agreement with Houthi rebels, which is far from imminent, would diminish the violence, but it would by no means bring peace to a country situated at the heel of the Arabian peninsula.

IS also launched a series of deadly bombings in Syria on Monday, killing almost 150 people. The attacks occurred in coastal cities, which had been considered safe territories under government control.

bik/bw (AFP, Reuters)