IS blast kills 52 Ye­meni sol­diers

Kerry dis­cusses Ye­men on Saudi trip

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A sui­cide bomber from the Is­lamic State group killed at least 52 Ye­meni sol­diers in Aden yes­ter­day, the lat­est in a string of deadly at­tacks against re­cruits in the coun­try’s sec­ond city. Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials and medics said dozens more were wounded in the at­tack that tar­geted a crowd of ser­vice­men who had gath­ered to col­lect their salaries near a base in north­east­ern Aden. Aden health chief Ab­del Nasser Al-Wali warned that the num­ber was likely to in­crease due to “crit­i­cal cases”.

The at­tack was car­ried out by a sui­cide bomber who blended in among sol­diers crowd­ing out­side the house of the head of spe­cial se­cu­rity forces in Aden, Colonel Nasser Sarea, in Al-Ar­ish dis­trict, near Al-Sawla­ban base. Sarea said the bomber “took ad­van­tage of the gath­er­ing and de­t­o­nated his ex­plo­sives among them”. Images from the blast scene showed blood­stains and scat­tered shoes across the sandy ground.

IS claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, say­ing in a state­ment that a “mar­tyr­dom seeker” had got­ten through se­cu­rity check­points be­fore blow­ing him­self up. The at­tack comes eight days af­ter a sim­i­lar bomb­ing at Al-Sawla­ban claimed by IS killed 48 sol­diers and wounded 29 oth­ers. Ye­meni au­thor­i­ties have fought a months-long cam­paign against ji­hadists who re­main ac­tive in the south and east of the im­pov­er­ished Ara­bian penin­sula coun­try.

IS and its ji­hadist ri­val Al-Qaeda have taken ad­van­tage of a con­flict be­tween the gov­ern­ment and Ye­men’s Houthi rebels, who con­trol the cap­i­tal Sanaa, to bol­ster their pres­ence across much of the south. The two ex­trem­ist groups have car­ried out a spate of at­tacks in Aden, Ye­men’s sec­ond city and head­quar­ters of the in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized gov­ern­ment whose forces re­took the port city from the Houthis last year. But Al-Qaeda has dis­tanced it­self from the Dec 10 at­tack, claim­ing that it tends to avoid “the shed­ding of any Mus­lim blood” while fo­cus­ing on fight­ing the “Amer­i­cans and their al­lies.”

Kerry in king­dom

Mean­while, US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry met Saudi King Sal­man and oth­ers yes­ter­day to dis­cuss the war in Ye­men, a visit to the king­dom that likely will be his last as Amer­ica’s top diplo­mat. Kerry’s trip, ahead of the in­au­gu­ra­tion of Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, comes as diplo­matic ties be­tween the two long­time al­lies have been strained by the Iran nu­clear deal cham­pi­oned by Demo­cratic Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and other is­sues.

Any ten­sions weren’t im­me­di­ately vis­i­ble as Kerry held meet­ings with the king, Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Nayef and other roy­alty in Riyadh, the Saudi cap­i­tal. “In tur­bu­lent times, it’s good to have solid friends,” Kerry told jour­nal­ists yes­ter­day night. “That’s why the United States’ part­ner­ship with Saudi Ara­bia is rightly so valu­able.”

Kerry ear­lier joined diplo­mats from Bri­tain, Oman and the United Arab Emi­rates to speak with Is­mail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the United Na­tions spe­cial en­voy to Ye­men. The UAE is part of the Saudi-led coali­tion fight­ing the Houthis, while Oman has served as an in­ter­locu­tor for them. On Twit­ter, Bri­tish Mid­dle East Min­is­ter To­bias Ellwood said the meet­ing dis­cussed a po­lit­i­cal process to end Ye­men’s war, some­thing he de­scribed as “the only way to bring peace”.

Kerry said he hoped to have par­ties in­volved “within two weeks” to agree to terms ear­lier set out by the UN. But he and Saudi For­eign Min­is­ter Adel Al-Jubeir of­fered few specifics on how that would be ac­com­plished, es­pe­cially as the UN has pro­posed sidelin­ing Saudibacked Pres­i­dent Abed-Rabbo Man­sour Hadi and giv­ing the rebels a share of power - con­ces­sions the king­dom strongly op­poses. “You can see from the hu­man­i­tar­ian si­t­u­a­tion, which is dire and de­te­ri­o­rat­ing rapidly, that it is ur­gent that we try to bring this war to a close,” he said. “But we also need to bring it to a close in a way that pro­tects the se­cu­rity of Saudi Ara­bia.”


ADEN: Ye­me­nis gather at the Al-Sawlaba base in Aden’s Al-Ar­ish dis­trict yes­ter­day, af­ter a sui­cide bomber tar­geted a crowd of sol­diers. —

RIYADH: Saudi King Sal­man meets US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry yes­ter­day. — AFP

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