Sanaa — A triple suicide bombing on a Saudi-led coalition military camp in southern Yemen killed 22 people Friday, including civilians, witnesses and medical officials said,AP reports.
The Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for the attacks in a short statement carrying the name of the group’s news agency, Amaq.
The first suicide bomber blew himself up at a checkpoint, meters away from the camp in the al-Hasswa district of the city of Aden. A spokesman for Aden’s security services, Nizar Anwar said that 18 people were killed in the first attack, including civilians. A second bomber drove an ambulance and rammed his vehicle into the rescuers. Four people were killed in this assault, Anwar said.
The third suicide car bomber then detonated his explosives close to the camp as civilians were waiting for roads to reopen, witnesses said. However Anwar said that a coalition jet attacked the car and killed the bomber.
Medical officials said that the death toll is expected to rise and that there were women and children among the victims, but did not give numbers for civilian casualties.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the press.
Abu Bakr Hazem, one of the witnesses, said that he was inside his car near a power station when he saw the ambulance advancing, followed by the explosion. He said that he saw bodies scattered on the ground, including women. A local reporter, Fathi ben Lazek, said that the ambulance tried to cross the checkpoint but was stopped by the guards, and then the suicide bomber blew himself up.
Aden, now the temporary Yemeni capital, has fallen into chaos since the summer, when it was recaptured from Houthi rebels by southern fighters backed by a Saudi-led coalition. An affiliate of the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for some of the deadliest attacks in the city.
The explosions took place shortly after the leader of the Houthis, Abdul-Malak al-Houthi, delivered his first speech after months in hiding, calling for street rallies to mark the first anniversary of the Saudi-led military campaign against his group. The rallies are due to take place in the city of Sanaa on Saturday.
Al-Houthi also lashed out at the U.S. and Britain for their alleged support for Saudi Arabia’s operation against the Houthis, who seized the Yemeni capital in Sep. 2014 and unseated the internationally-recognized government.
Yet his tone was comparatively subdued, suggesting that the Houthis are under pressure following a ground operation and airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians. Al-Houthi asked the Saudi’s to “fear God,” and end their “crimes.”
Earlier this week, the United Nations announced that a cessation of hostilities is due to begin in Yemen on April 10, before talks on April 18.
The lawlessness in Yemen has also paved the way for al-Qaida to expand, having seized several cities along the Arabian Sea coastline. This week, a series of U.S. drone strikes hit a camp for new recruits in the southern province of Hadramawt, in the first largest attack on al-Qaida in Yemen in three years.
On Friday, Ibrahim al-Yafaie, a Yemeni journalist who is well-connected to the group, said that the death toll among al-Qaida militants reached 51. Initially, officials said that 40 were killed in the airstrikes.
The group is perceived by Washington as al-Qaida’s most dangerous offshoot after plotting several attacks on US soil the past years.