Saudi-led coalition hits al-Qaeda training camp in Yemen | News | DW | 22.03.2016
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Saudi-led coalition hits al-Qaeda training camp in Yemen

A Saudi-led coalition has attacked an al-Qaeda base in the terrorist group's stronghold in southeastern Yemen. The coalition is targeting the terrorist group after allegations it had been collaborating with it.

The strikes reportedly killed and wounded dozens at the base at Hajr, 75 kilometers (46 miles) west of Hadramawt's provincial capital Mukalla, which has been held by the jihadists since last April.

"An Arab coalition air force targeted an al-Qaeda training camp, killing and wounding dozens," a government official in the region told AFP Tuesday. A tribal member at the site told news agency AP that about 40 people had been killed and wounded in the Brom Maifa district.

Wounded militants were reportedly taken to a hospital in Mukalla, with witnesses reporting seeing nine vehicles transporting casualties from the area. Dozens of al-Qaeda militants were also seen rushing to the hospital to donate blood, local residents told AFP.

Saudi Arabia has been leading the US and UK-backed coalition of ten Arab states in a bombing campaign against the Shia-dominated Houthi forces that are loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. But the coalition only began targeting jihadists for the first time last week, in the country's second city, Aden.

Al-Qaeda and the so-called "Islamic State" have been exploiting the conflict between the rebels and coalition-backed loyalist forces to reinforce their presence in the south and east of the country, while Saudi Arabia fears emboldened Houthis will give its regional rival, Iran, a foothold on the Arabian Peninsula.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, aka AQAP, is based in Yemen and is classified by the United States as the network's deadliest group.

A BBC documentary in 2015 suggested AQAP and its allies were joining the Saudi-led coalition in the fight against Houthi rebels in the southern city of Taiz. The 10 country-strong coalition denied any cooperation with the Sunni extremists and reiterated its stance that AQAP is a terrorist organization.

A conflict without end

About 6,000 people have been killed in the latest bout fighting in Yemen and up to 80 percent of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.

A building in Yemen destroyed by one of the air strikes

A building in Yemen destroyed by one of the air strikes

Amnesty International has accused the coalition of disproportionally targeting civilians in air strikes.

The coalition said on March 16 it was investigating reports of mass casualties from air strikes on a market packed with civilians in the northwest of Yemen. Three attacks reportedly killed at least 41 civilians and wounded another 75 on March 15, a health official said.

More than 6,000 people - half of them civilians - have been killed in Yemen's conflict since the Saudi-led intervention began, according to the United Nations, which has called on the Saudis to halt the air campaign.

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