Toronto Star

ISIS conducts synchroniz­ed attacks in Yemen

- AHMED AL-HAJ THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SANAA, YEMEN— Two Islamic Stateclaim­ed attacks on Friday in Yemen’s largest province killed at least 15 people and wounded 30, security officials said, in the latest sign the extremists are taking advantage of the country’s civil war to expand their reach.

Meanwhile, a lawyer representi­ng an American held in Yemen since 2010 on suspicion of being linked to Al Qaeda militants said his client wasn’t among three U.S. citizens recently freed and evacuated from the country.

Friday’s synchroniz­ed attacks targeted checkpoint­s manned by security forces loyal to Yemen’s internatio­nally recognized government in the cities of Shibam and al-Qatn, both in Hadramawt province, officials said.

A car bomb detonated amid the fighting in Shibam, according to video shot by a local resident that correspond­ed to other reporting by The Associated Press about the assault.

The security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak to journalist­s, provided the casualty figures. A claim for the attack circulated online by Islamic State supporters offered a higher death toll of 50 killed. The discrepanc­y could not be immediatel­y reconciled.

While The Associated Press could not independen­tly verify the Islamic State claim, it correspond­ed to others previously released by the group. ISIS has claimed a series of bombings that killed 152 and wounded 345 people this year in Yemen, according to an Associated Press count.

Earlier in the day, officials blamed Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen’s local branch of the militant group, for the attacks. Al Qaeda fighters have captured much of Hadramawt province and its capital, Mukalla, amid the civil war gripping the country. Washington considers the branch to be the world’s most dangerous.

Yemen’s civil war pits Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies against the internatio­nally backed government forces and a Saudi-led coalition. At least 5,700 people have been killed in the conflict in Yemen since March 26, including 830 women and children, the United Nations said Wednesday.

The war has pushed the country to the brink of famine, as the UN says more than 21million people — 80 per cent of the population — need humanitari­an assistance.

Houthis and others have taken foreigners hostage in the chaos of the war. On Thursday, officials said three Americans held captive by the Houthis in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, had been freed and flown to neighbouri­ng Oman after the sultanate negotiated on Washington’s behalf.

The U.S. Embassy in Muscat has not identified those freed. However, they did not include Sharif Mobley, a U.S. citizen held in Yemen since 2010 on suspicion of being part of Al Qaeda, said Cori Crider, an American lawyer representi­ng him.

Mobley, who grew up in New Jersey, faces a death sentence on charges he killed a hospital guard while trying to escape government custody. He was apparently seized by the Houthis when they took Sanaa in September 2014.

Crider, who works with the United Kingdom-based advocacy group Reprieve, said in a statement that the U.S. State Department has yet to offer any new informatio­n to Mobley’s family.

 ?? KHALED ABDULLAH/REUTERS ?? Friday’s attacks that killed at least 15 people in Yemen could be a sign the extremists are taking advantage of the civil war to expand their reach.
KHALED ABDULLAH/REUTERS Friday’s attacks that killed at least 15 people in Yemen could be a sign the extremists are taking advantage of the civil war to expand their reach.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada