Three suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group on Friday struck checkpoints of Yemeni loyalist forces in Aden, killing 22 people, including 10 civilians, a security official said.
The bombings were followed by an attempt to attack a nearby large base of the Saudi-led Arab pro-government coalition that recently turned its guns on militants in southern Yemen.
The attacks came a year after the coalition launched on March 26 last year an air campaign against Shiite rebels in support of internationally backed Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The Islamic State-affiliated Amaq news agency said in an online report that “IS fighters have launched three martyrdom operations and an attack on a base of the coalition in Aden.”
Two bombs went off simultaneously at separate checkpoints in Shaab District on Aden’s western outskirts, before gunmen launched an attack on the nearby base of the military coalition, an official said.
Apache helicopters belonging to the coalition carried out strikes on positions of gunmen in the surrounding area as the assailants tried to advance toward the base.
A third explosive device planted in an ambulance was detonated at checkpoint near Mansura, in central Aden, the official said.
The Arab coalition waging the year-long bombing campaign against Shiite Houthi rebels only began targeting Islamic State militants for the first time last week in Aden.
The Islamic State and al-Qaeda have exploited the chaos, widening their footholds in the south and carrying out deadly attacks, mostly against forces loyal to Hadi.
A US airstrike on Tuesday on an al-Qaeda training camp in the southeastern province of Hadramawt killed more than 70 fighters in a major blow to the extremist group.
Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen is considered by Washington to be the most dangerous affiliate of the international terror organization.
The Arab coalition launched its air campaign against the Houthis in March last year, as the Iran-backed rebels advanced on Hadi’s refuge in Aden and forced him to flee to Riyadh.
Loyalists have since managed to drive the rebels out of Aden and four other southern provinces, thanks to the military support of the coalition. However, the coalition has failed to deal a decisive blow to the rebels and their allies, who continue to control large parts of Yemen, including the capital, Sana’a, which they seized in September 2014.
The UN says about 6,300 people have been killed since March last year, with civilians accounting for more than half.
New hopes for a breakthrough in the conflict surfaced on Wednesday when UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said warring parties had agreed on a ceasefire that would be observed before peace talks start on April 18.
Previous negotiations have failed and several ceasefires were never respected.
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