Al Qaeda militants killed at least 19 soldiers at an army base in southern Yemen on Friday, security officials and tribal leaders said, a day after dozens of government security forces died in a rebel missile strike and a suicide bombing in Aden.
Al Qaeda gunmen stormed Al Mahfad base in Abyan province and remained inside for several hours before military reinforcements came, three security officials told Agence France-Presse.
“The Qaeda gunmen took advantage of what happened in Aden and launched an assault on Al Mahfad base and clashed with soldiers,” a security official said.
“Military reinforcements were sent … and the gunmen were killed while others were driven out with air support from the [Saudi-led] coalition, in an operation that lasted hours,” the official said.
“At least 19 soldiers were killed and others wounded.”
Security officials and tribal leaders told Associated Press the death toll on the government side was at least 20.
The attack came a day after a missile fired by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels killed at least 30 people at military training camp in Aden. Hours earlier, a suicide car bombing at a police station in the southern port city killed three officers and wounded several others. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. Some reports put the overall toll in Aden in Thursday at more than 50 dead.
Al Qaeda and ISIS have staged numerous attacks in Aden amid the chaos of the civil war that broke out in 2015 following the Houthi takeover of the capital, Sanaa.
Yemeni forces trained by the UAE, a leading member of the Saudi-led coalition supporting the government against the Houthis, have been conducting operations against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen-based branch of the terror group, across the country’s southern provinces including Hadramawt, Abyan, Shabwa and Bayda.
Earlier this year they captured a large AQAP training base in the east of Abyan that was used by the terror group as a staging post for attacks.