ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack on the headquarters of a counter-terrorism unit in southern Yemen. Initial reports say 14 were killed and 40 were wounded, but eyewitnesses say the death toll could be much higher.
The attack consisted of multiple suicide bombers and armed gunmen who stormed the anti-terror facility. Although a number of people were killed, the attackers were unable to enter the headquarters.
Yemen is in a state of virtual civil war, with the government operating out of Saudi Arabia while ISIS and Al Qaeda attacks continue to destabilize the country.
Islamic State, in a statement carried by its Amaq news agency, claimed responsibility for what it described as two “martyrdom operations” targeting the camp in Tawahi district in south-western Aden.
The agency provided no immediate evidence for the claim.
Security sources said two suicide bombers detonated two cars laden with explosives at the camp’s entrance while six gunmen tried to storm the facility.
They were all killed by guards and their bodies taken to a military hospital, a medical source told Reuters.
Aden police said in a statement on its Facebook page that security forces had foiled a major attack on the camp.
“All the … terrorists were liquidated immediately before they could reach the outer gate of the anti-terrorism headquarters,” a police statement said.
Security sources and medics said three security men, a woman and two children died in the attack, while 40 other people, many of them civilians, were wounded.
The attack was the first of its kind in southern Yemen since gun battles erupted in January between southern separatists and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government over control of the city.
Aden is the temporary capital of Yemen’s internationally recognized Hadi government, which is now operating out of Saudi Arabia.
Backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition, Hadi’s government has been battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement since 2015 in a war that has driven the country to the verge of famine.
Residents described two large explosions in the area that sent up a cloud of gray smoke while ambulances raced to evacuate the wounded.
In a statement carried by the state-run Saba news agency, Hadi described the attack as a “cowardly act aimed to destabilize security in the temporary capital … but it will not dissuade people from their will to achieve security, safety and decent living.”
Al Qaeda and Islamic State have exploited the war in Yemen to carry out assassinations and bombings, mostly in lawless southern Yemeni areas nominally controlled by the government.