Militants, soldiers die in Yemen battle

  • 07/07/2016
Aden in Yemen (Getty)
Aden in Yemen (Getty)

At least six Yemeni troops and around 20 militant attackers have been killed in an assault on a military base near the international airport of Yemen's southern city of Aden, security sources say.

The assault began on Wednesday when two suicide bombers blew up their cars, followed by armed militants storming the Solaban base.

They occupied several buildings but were killed after four hours of heavy gun battles, the sources said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Islamic State (IS) carried out a similar large-scale attack in the southern port of Mukalla on June 27.

In recent days there has also been a raft of bombings apparently carried out by IS in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bangladesh and Iraq.

The surge in violence coincided with the last days of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from dawn until dusk. Wednesday marked the beginning of Eid al-Fitr, a major religious festival.

In the past year, Islamist militants in Yemen have gained in territory and freedom to operate from a civil war pitting government forces against Iran-allied Houthi rebels. The Houthis control the capital, Sanaa.

Both al-Qaeda and IS operate in Yemen. The groups consider government forces and the Houthis as enemies, but are otherwise ideological rivals and compete for recruits.

Al-Qaeda has used the security vacuum to seize control over swathes of southern and eastern Yemen. IS has launched several attacks on security forces.

Three co-ordinated IS bomb attacks on government troops killed 38 people in Mukalla on June 27 as they were preparing to break their Ramadan fast.

In a separate incident on Tuesday night, a Katyusha rocket barrage launched by Houthi forces on the outskirts of the central city of Marib killed seven children between the ages of five and nine, local officials said.