Car bombers claimed by Is­lamic State kill fif­teen in Ye­men port Aden

The China Post - - IN­TER­NA­TIONAL - BY AHMED AL-HAJ AND JON GAM­BRELL

Sui­cide car bomb­ings tar­get­ing ex­iled Ye­meni of­fi­cials and the Saudi and Emi­rati troops back­ing their ef­forts to re­take the coun­try killed at least 15 peo­ple Tues­day in the port city of Aden, au­thor­i­ties said. A new Is­lamic State af­fil­i­ate claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the as­sault, which of­fi­cials ear­lier blamed on Ye­men’s Shi­ite rebels.

The ad­di­tion of the ex­trem­ist Is­lamic State group, which holds a third of Syria and Iraq in its self­de­clared “caliphate,” only would add fur­ther chaos to the civil war grip­ping the Arab world’s poor­est coun­try. Up un­til Tues­day, the Sunni ex­trem­ists largely tar­geted Shi­ites in Ye­men as a myr­iad of forces fought over the ouster of in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized Pres­i­dent Abed Rabbo Man­sour Hadi by the Shi­ite rebels known as Houthis.

The early morn­ing at­tack on the Al Qasr Ho­tel & Re­sort, a large com­pound that Ye­meni of­fi­cials use as a head­quar­ters, likely changed that. A blast struck the front of the 239-room ho­tel along the Ara­bian Sea, west of the port city’s down­town, send­ing thick black smoke ris­ing over it for hours as sirens wailed.

Two other at­tacks fol­lowed on lo­ca­tions used by troops from the United Arab Emi­rates, which has the most overt pres­ence among coali­tion forces in­side Ye­men. Those as­saults hit the palace of Sheikh Fa­reed Al Awlaqi, which Emi­rati troops and the Emi­rati Red Cres­cent had been us­ing, as well as a nearby coali­tion mil­i­tary camp, the state-owned The Na­tional news­pa­per of Abu Dhabi re­ported.

The United Arab Emi­rates’ of­fi­cial WAM news agency quoted un­named “in­formed sources and wit­nesses” as say­ing the at­tacks killed 15 peo­ple, in­clud­ing al­lied Ye­meni forces. The gen­eral com­mand of the UAE’s armed forces said the dead in­cluded four Emi­rati sol­diers, though the Saudi Press Agency said three Emi­ratis and one Saudi died. The dis­crep­ancy could not be rec­on­ciled.

Ra­jeh Badi, a spokesman for Ye­men’s ex­iled gov­ern­ment, said all gov­ern­ment min­is­ters and the prime min­is­ter were safe and un­hurt. He blamed sui­cide car bombers for the at­tacks.

That con­flicted with the of­fi­cial Saudi Press Agency, which blamed in­com­ing Rus­sian-de­signed Katyusha rock­ets for the blasts. Those rock­ets are part of the Ye­meni mil­i­tary stock­pile that the Houthis, as well as al-Qaida’s local branch in the coun­try, have seized amid the war’s chaos.

But by Tues­day af­ter­noon, the new Is­lamic State af­fil­i­ate in Aden claimed the at­tacks in a mes­sage cir­cu­lated by mil­i­tant sym­pa­thiz­ers on­line. It said four sui­cide bombers car­ried out the as­sault, which saw a truck bomb and a Humvee ex­plode at the ho­tel, while two ex­plo­sives­laden ar­mored ve­hi­cles ex­ploded at a Saudi and Emi­rati mil­i­tary head­quar­ters and an Emi­rati mil­i­tary ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing.

The Associated Press could not in­de­pen­dently ver­ify the mes­sage, though it was re­leased like oth­ers by the group and car­ried its lo­gos. It also named and in­cluded pho­tographs of the sup­posed bombers.

Saudi and Emi­rati of­fi­cials did not im­me­di­ately com­ment on the Is­lamic State claim. How­ever, An­war Gar­gash, the Emi­rati min­is­ter of state for for­eign af­fairs, ear­lier had blamed the at­tack on the Houthis and their al­lies.

“The re­al­ity on the ground is they are fight­ing a los­ing bat­tle. Their role on the ground has been re­duced so they re­sort to mines, am­bushes and rock­ets,” Gar­gash said on his of­fi­cial Twit­ter ac­count. He added that the at­tack on the Aden ho­tel “re­in­forces our need to de­stroy the forces of re­bel­lion and de­struc­tion. We will con­tinue in our en­deavor un­til vic­tory. And it is close.”

Houthi me­dia re­ported on the blasts in Aden, but did not claim the at­tacks.

AP

In this photo pro­vided by the Emi­rates News Agency, WAM, smoke rises fol­low­ing an ex­plo­sion that hit Ho­tel al-Qasr, where Cab­i­net mem­bers and other gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are stay­ing, in the south­ern port city of Aden, Ye­men, Tues­day, Oct. 6.

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