ISIS (also known as Daesh) claimed responsibility for attacks on the army in southeast Yemen Friday, after the military had blamed Al-Qaeda for the assaults that cost dozens of lives. ISIS said in a statement, quoted by SITE monitoring group, that 50 Yemeni troops were killed in multi-pronged attacks including a suicide bombing and clashes in Hadramawt province. The Yemeni army earlier said Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had launched the attacks on army positions near the town of Shibam, and that 12 soldiers and 19 militants were killed. Medics later said the army lost 15 men and that several civilians were wounded.
Hadramawt province is a stronghold of Al-Qaeda whose militants control its capital Mukalla.
ISIS is also present in Yemen feeding on chaos in the country where an Arab-led Arab coalition has been battling Iran-backed Houthi rebels opposed to the government.
Both Al-Qaeda and ISIS are visibly present in Yemen’s second city Aden, where the Saudi-backed government has set up a temporary headquarters after the Houthis took over the capital Sanaa.
Yemeni exiled President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi Tuesday returned to Aden to rally forces loyal to him and oversee a campaign to retake Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city.
On Oct. 6, the temporary headquarters came under attack in a series of bombings that lightly wounded several ministers and killed 15 people. ISIS claimed the bombings which also hit military installations used by coalition troops.
In its latest claim, ISIS said its operation Friday targeted “three barracks of the apostate Yemeni army” on a road near Shibam in Hadramawt, SITE reported.
ISIS said its fighters seized the barracks, killing or wounding those inside and that later a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-packed car into army reinforcements sent to the area. The statement claimed that clashes with Yemeni troops were still underway.
The main assault was staged at the western entrance to Shibam, known as the “Manhattan of the Desert” and listed as a UNESCO world heritage site for its high-rise mud-brick buildings, the army said.
Local officials said fierce clashes broke out after militants exploded a roadside bomb targeting an army patrol, while a suicide bomber blew up a car at an army post near a residential area. “The blast damaged many homes, wounding several civilians,” a medical source said in the nearby town of Seiyun, where the casualties and the bodies of the dead soldiers were transported.
Among the first bloody attacks that ISIS claimed in Yemen were a series of bombings against Shiite mosques in Sanaa in March that killed 142 people. Taking advantage of Houthi advances in northern and southern Yemen and the collapse of central authority, Al-Qaeda seized control in April of the port city of Mukalla.
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