ADEN (Reuters) - A suicide car bombing claimed by Islamic State killed at least 40 Yemeni army recruits and wounded 60 in the southern city of Aden on Monday, medics said, in one of the deadliest attacks yet on government interests.
The attack occurred as the recruits lined up to enlist outside the home of a senior general near a military camp in Aden’s Khor Maksar district, officials said.
The port city serves as the temporary capital of Yemen’s Saudi-backed administration while it seeks to seize back Sanaa from the Iran-allied armed Houthi group that took it in 2014, plunging Yemen into civil war.
Local news website Aden al-Ghad showed pictures of soldiers picking up bloodied comrades in uniform from the ground and witnesses said ambulances with blaring sirens collected the wounded.
Islamic State said the attack targeted “the apostate Yemeni army” and named the attacker as Abu Ali al-Adeni, according to a statement posted on its social media accounts.
It said a bomb planted at the gate of the nearby Badr army base detonated afterwards. Officials said the second blast caused no casualties.
The attacks follow gains by Yemeni government forces backed by the United Arab Emirates, who mounted an offensive on al Qaeda militants in southern towns last month.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken advantage of chaos in Yemen since the civil war began to win control over swathes of southern and eastern Yemen.
Their militant rivals in Yemen’s branch of Islamic State have carried out a series of suicide attacks on all parties to Yemen’s tangled conflict, killing 25 police recruits outside the southeastern port city of Mukalla earlier in May.
The militant threat has spurred U.N.-sponsored peace talks between the Houthis and Hadi’s government in Kuwait that have made little progress since they began last month.
The talks have been bogged down by differences over the implementation of a U.N. resolution calling for the Houthis to quit cities they control and hand over weapons and forming a more representative government.
Yemeni forces pushed al Qaeda out of its base in Mukalla and killed 16 militants in a raid outside the city backed up by Gulf Arab helicopters on Sunday.
Additional reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Noah Browning and Sami Aboudi,; Editing by Richard Balmforth and John Stonestreet