37 Yemeni police officers killed in two bomb blasts, one claimed by ISIS

Yemeni soldiers stand next to a photocopier believed was carrying explosives, outside a public security camp following a reported suicide attack in the south-eastern Yemeni port of Mukalla, on May 15, 2016.
Yemeni soldiers stand next to a photocopier believed was carrying explosives, outside a public security camp following a reported suicide attack in the south-eastern Yemeni port of Mukalla, on May 15, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

ADEN • A suicide attack claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and a separate bombing killed 37 police officers yesterday in the Yemeni port of Mukalla, where a year of Al-Qaeda rule was ended just last month.

The suicide attack was the second attack in days claimed by ISIS in the city of 200,000 people, which was recaptured by government forces, with United States backing.

The suicide bomber killed at least 31 police recruits on the south-western outskirts of the city, which is the capital of Hadramawt province, medical personnel said.

The bomber detonated an explosives belt as he joined a line of men at a police recruitment centre, a provincial official said.

More than 60 people were also wounded in the attack in Fuwah district, said a medical source.

Hadramawt's security chief, General Mubarak al-Oubthani, who was at the recruitment centre at the time of the attack but was unhurt, was the target of a second bombing when he headed to the centre of Mukalla afterwards, a security official said.

The bomb went off as Gen Oubthani walked out of his office, killing six of his guards but leaving him with only minor injuries, the official said.

An ISIS statement posted online claimed the suicide attack, the second but rare intervention by the terrorist group in an area known as a stronghold of rival Al-Qaeda.

"Brother Abu al-Bara al-Ansari... detonated his explosives belt at a gathering of the apostates of the security forces," it said.

It is not clear if the bombing that injured Gen Oubthani is also the work of ISIS.

Last Thursday, 15 Yemeni soldiers were killed in attacks on army positions outside Mukalla. ISIS said one of its militants blew up a vehicle packed with explosives in an army base in Khalf district on the city's eastern outskirts.

The attacks included a suicide bombing that targeted the residence of the commander of Hadramawt's second military region, General Faraj Salmeen, but he escaped unharmed, officials said.

The general boasted last Friday that his forces had captured some 250 Al-Qaeda members since they retook Mukalla and nearby coastal towns, including its commander for the city of Shihr, some 60km to the east.

Al-Qaeda was driven out of the area last month, with the backing of Emirati and Saudi special forces.

In a separate ISIS attack, militants descended on a state-run gas plant in Baghdad's northern outskirts yesterday, killing at least 11 people, including policemen, and forcing two power stations it supplied to suspend electricity production.

A suicide car bomb went off at the entrance of the facility in Taji in the early morning, allowing another vehicle carrying at least six attackers with explosive vests to enter and clash with security forces, police sources said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2016, with the headline '37 Yemeni police officers killed in two bomb blasts, one claimed by ISIS'. Print Edition | Subscribe