Special to WorldTribune.com
Both Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and Al Qaida claimed responsibility for a series of deadly suicide bombings in Yemen in the past two days.
At least 15 Yemeni troops were killed as ISIL jihadists unleashed three bombings and engaged in a gun battle outside the southeastern port city of Mukalla, the army said.
The bombing by ISIL was seen as a rare intervention in Mukalla, which had been under Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP’s) control until it was driven out last month by the Saudi-led coalition with support from Emirati special forces.
“A knight of the knights of martyrdom, brother Hamza al-Muhajir… was able to detonate his explosives-laden car at a post of the apostates of the militia of (President Abd Rabbo Mansour) Hadi,” ISIL said in a statement posted online.
A Yemeni military official said one suicide bomber rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into the gate of a base in the Khalf district, followed immediately by a second who blew up a car in the center of the camp.
A third bomber targeted the nearby residence of the commander of Hadramawt’s second military region, Gen. Faraj Salmeen, but he escaped unharmed, the official said.
Meanwhile, the commander of the province’s first military region, Gen. Abdulrahman al-Haleeli, survived a suicide bombing against his convoy on May 11 that killed four of his guards. AQAP claimed responsibility for the May 11 attack.
The Pentagon revealed last week that a “very small number” of U.S. military personnel has also been deployed around Mukalla in support of the operation to retake the city.
“It does not serve our interests to have a terrorist organization in charge of a port city, and so we are assisting in that,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said.