Al Qaeda claims attack on south Yemen army base near Aden

ADEN (Reuters) - Eight Yemeni troops and six militants were killed on Wednesday in an assault claimed by Al Qaeda on a military base near the international airport of Yemen’s southern city of Aden, the military said.

Two suicide bombers blew up their cars, then militants stormed the Solaban base and fought with troops backed by Apache helicopters for several hours, a special forces statement said.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack on the messaging app Telegram, according to the militant monitoring SITE Intelligence group, calling the attack revenge for government attacks elsewhere in southern Yemen.

Islamist militants in Yemen have gained territory in the past year as a civil war, pitting government forces against Iran-allied Houthi rebels, has created a security vacuum. The Houthis control the capital, Sanaa.

Both Al Qaeda and Islamic State operate in Yemen and consider government forces and the Houthis as enemies. They are also ideologically opposed to each other and compete for recruits.

Al Qaeda has seized swathes of southern and eastern Yemen but in recent months has seldom claimed attacks on security forces. However, Islamic State has launched several major attacks on government troops.

Three coordinated Islamic State bomb attacks on government forces killed 38 people in the coastal city of Mukalla in southern Yemen on June 27 as they were preparing to break their Ramadan fast.

In a separate incident on Tuesday night, a Katyusha rocket barrage launched by Houthi forces on the outskirts of the central city of Marib killed seven children between the ages of five and nine, local officials said.

A shaky ceasefire between government forces and the Houthis that began nearly three months ago has brought some respite from the war which started when the Houthis pushed the government into exile in March 2015. But clashes regularly flare on various battlefronts throughout Yemen.

The conflict has killed more than 6,400 people - about half of them civilians, according to the United Nations - and plunged the impoverished country into a humanitarian crisis.

Additional reporting by Mohamed Ghobari; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Louise Ireland