ADEN: At least 15 people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack on a checkpoint in southeastern Yemen run by local forces backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), officials and residents said.
Residents said on Tuesday gunmen opened fire on the checkpoint after a suicide bomber drove his booby-trapped car into the checkpoint northeast of Ataq, the capital of the province of Shabwa.
Officials said 11 people died in the attack and three were wounded, while residents put the death toll at 15.
Meanwhile, the Saudi-led Arab coalition has called for an immediate ceasefire in the southern city of Aden, where heavy fighting has erupted between government troops and the southern separatists.
“The coalition renews its call to all parties to cease fire immediately and ends all forms of armed conflict,” the coalition said in a statement cited by the Saudi SPA agency.
“The coalition affirms that it will take all necessary measures to restore security and stability in Aden,” the statement said.
The attack came as southern separatists battled Yemeni government forces for control of the interim capital of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government in Aden. The clashes risked a separate fight by a Saudi-led campaign against Iran-aligned Houthis in northern Yemen.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but it resembled previous operations by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which operates in the area.
The Shabwa Elite Force, which was set up and trained by the United Arab Emirates as part of its fight against Islamist militants, drove AQAP militants out of Ataq in a major military operation in August last year.
The UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition that intervened in the Yemen civil war in 2015 to try to restore Hadi to power after the Houthis advanced on Aden and forced him to flee into exile.
Two days of fighting
The coalition said it regretted that the warring sides did not respond to its earlier calls for restraint and calm.
The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said late on Monday that at least 36 people have been killed and 185 others wounded in two days of fighting in Aden.
Fighting intensified on Monday after the warring sides began using tank and artillery firepower as the port city remained paralysed.
Separatists’ forces late on Monday advanced on the presidential palace and captured two military camps near Aden international airport, security sources told AFP news agency.
The fighting is taking place between troops loyal to the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, based in Riyadh, and security forces loyal to the southern separatists which are trained and backed by the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi Arabia and UAE are the main partners in the Arab coalition that has been waging war on the Iran-backed Houthi rebels which took over the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September 2014.