Bombs kill 37 Yemen police in former Al-Qaeda bastion

Yemeni troops search a vehicle at a checkpoint following suicide attacks in the southeastern Yemeni port of Mukalla on May 12, 2016. A suicide bombing claimed by the Daesh group killed 37 police on Sunday in Mukalla. (AFP)
Updated 04 August 2016
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Bombs kill 37 Yemen police in former Al-Qaeda bastion

ADEN: A suicide bombing claimed by the Daesh group and a second attack killed 37 police on Sunday in the Yemeni port of Mukalla where a year of Al-Qaeda rule was ended just last month, medics said.
It was the second attack in days claimed by Daesh in the city of 200,000 people which was recaptured by government forces from the rival extremist group Al-Qaeda with US backing.
The suicide bomber killed at least 31 police recruits on the southwestern outskirts of the city, which is the capital of Hadramawt province, medics said.
The bomber detonated an explosives belt as he joined a line of men at a police recruitment center, a provincial official said.
More than sixty people were also wounded in the attack in Fuwah district, a medical source said.
Hadramawt’s security chief, General Mubarak Al-Oubthani, who was at the recruitment center at the time of the attack but was not hurt, was the target of a second bombing when he headed to the center of Mukalla afterwards, a security official said.
The bomb went off as Oubthani walked out of his office killing six of his guards but leaving him with only minor injuries, the official said.
A Daesh statement posted online claimed the suicide attack, the second but rare intervention by the jihadist group in an area known as a stronghold of rival Al-Qaeda.
“Brother Abu Al-Bara Al-Ansari... detonated his explosives belt at a gathering of the apostates of the security forces,” it said.
On Thursday, 15 Yemeni troops were killed in jihadist attacks on army positions outside Mukalla. Daesh said one of its militants blew up a vehicle packed with explosives in an army base in Khalf district on the city’s eastern outskirts.
The attacks included a suicide bombing that targeted the residence of the commander of Hadramawt’s second military region, General Faraj Salmeen, but he escaped unharmed, officials said.


The general boasted on Friday that his forces had captured some 250 Al-Qaeda members since they retook Mukalla and nearby coastal towns, including its commander for the city of Shihr, some 60 kilometers (35 miles) to the east.
Al-Qaeda was driven out of the area last month with the backing of Emirati and Saudi special forces.
The Pentagon revealed last week that a “very small number” of US military personnel had also been deployed around Mukalla in support of the operation.
The US Navy has several ships nearby, including an amphibious assault vessel, USS Boxer, and two destroyers.
The offensive against Al-Qaeda comes amid a truce and peace talks between the government and Iran-backed rebels it has been fighting with support from a Saudi-led coalition since March last year.
Jihadists of both Al-Qaeda and Daesh took advantage of that conflict to expand their presence in Hadramawt and other areas of the south, including second city Aden where the government has its base.
Daesh has claimed several attacks on government and coalition targets in Aden in recent months.
Washington regards Al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based branch as its most dangerous and has stepped up a longstanding drone war against it in recent weeks.
But the jihadists retain a strong presence and still control several towns in the interior valley of Wadi Hadramawt.


Iran: US sanctions on Khamenei mean end of diplomacy

Updated 47 min 46 sec ago
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Iran: US sanctions on Khamenei mean end of diplomacy

  • Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of drone attack
  • Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year

Iran said on Tuesday that a US decision to impose sanctions on the country’s supreme leader and other top officials permanently closed the path to diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.
“Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif) is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a tweet.
“Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.”

US President Donald Trump earlier signed an executive order that would impose fresh sanctions on Iran, amid increased tensions between the long-time foes.

Trump initially told reporters the sanctions, which will target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his office, were in response to Tehran's downing of a US drone last week. Tehran has said the drone was flying in its airspace, which Washington has denied.

Later, Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone.

The US will also blacklist Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and block "billions" more in Iranian assets as part of expanded sanctions, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.

Mnuchin told reporters Zarif would be added to an economic sanctions list "later this week," adding that eight top military commanders from Iran's Revolutionary Guards have now also been blacklisted.

The US has also blamed Iran for attacks earlier this month on two oil tankers at the entrance of the Gulf of Oman. Iran, in turn, has denied that it is to blame.

Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year, when the US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing of sanctions. Trump’s administration has said the deal struck under his predecessor President Barack Obama did not do enough.

Trump has said he would be open to talks with Iranian leaders, but Tehran has rejected such an offer unless Washington drops the sanctions.

The Trump administration wants to force Tehran to open talks on its nuclear and missile programmes and its activities in the region.

The US also accuses Iran of encouraging allies in Yemen to attack Saudi targets. In a joint statement on Monday, the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and UK expressed concern over Middle East tensions and the dangers posed by Iranian "destabilizing activity" to peace and security in Yemen and the region.