Aden- An Islamic State group militant rammed his explosives-laden car into an army recruitment centre in Aden on Monday, killing 60 people in the deadliest jihadist attack to hit the city in over a year.
Yemen’s army, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, is training young recruits to join its nationwide war against Shiite Huthi rebels and their allies, as well as Sunni jihadists.
Aden is the temporary base of Yemen’s internationally recognised government, which was forced into exile after Iran-backed insurgents seized Sanaa and other parts of the war-torn country.
Security officials told AFP that the attacker drove a car bomb into a gathering of army recruits at a school in northern Aden early Monday.
Although the school was locked as recruits registered inside, the attacker drove in when the gate was opened for a delivery vehicle, officials said.
Witnesses said some recruits were buried when a roof collapsed over them following the blast, which also damaged buildings close to the recruitment centre.
The assault killed at least 60 people and wounded about 30 others, medical sources from the three hospitals where the victims were taken told AFP.
They could not immediately verify if all those killed were army recruits.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Twitter that their hospital in Aden “received 45 dead and at least 60 wounded” from the explosion.
Aden has seen a wave of bombings and shootings targeting officials and security forces.
Attacks in the port city are often claimed by jihadists from either Al-Qaeda or IS, who have both taken advantage of the chaos in Yemen to make gains in southern and southeastern regions.
– String of attacks –
IS claimed Monday’s bombing on its official propaganda outlet, Amaq, saying the blast had killed around 60 people.
Earlier this month, a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a large group of army reinforcements sent from Aden to fight jihadists in neighbouring Lahj, killing five soldiers, according to military officials.
No group has claimed that attack.
But on July 20, four policemen were killed in an IS-claimed bomb attack in Aden.
And in May, twin suicide bombings in Aden claimed by IS killed at least 41 people.
Yemeni authorities have trained hundreds of soldiers in Aden over the past two months as part of operations to retake neighbouring southern provinces from jihadists.
Earlier this month, Yemeni government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition entered Abyan’s provincial capital Zinjibar.
Troops retook other towns across Abyan but have been met by fierce resistance in the key Al-Qaeda stronghold of Al-Mahfid, security sources said.
The militants are still present in areas surrounding the recaptured towns and control large parts of the neighbouring Shabwa province, the sources say.
The Arab coalition battling Iran-backed rebels in Yemen has also been providing troops with air cover throughout their war against the jihadists.
The United States has meanwhile carried out numerous drone strikes against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives in Yemen.
– 3 children killed on Saudi side –
The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March last year and helped government troops push the rebels out of Aden and four other southern provinces since July 2015.
The war in Yemen has also impacted security in Saudi Arabia, where shelling from the kingdom’s impoverished neighbour killed three Saudi children and wounded nine other people on Sunday.
Cross-border attacks from Yemen have intensified since the suspension in early August of UN-brokered peace talks between the rebels and Yemen’s Saudi-backed government.
The Arab coalition has also stepped up its air raids in Yemen since peace talks collapsed.
More than 6,600 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Yemen since March 2015 and more than 80 percent of the population has been left in need of humanitarian aid, according to the UN.