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

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.


US targets five Iranian officials for blocking election candidates

Updated 20 February 2020

US targets five Iranian officials for blocking election candidates

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday slapped sanctions on five Iranian officials in charge of vetting candidates for this week's parliamentary elections, in which thousands have been barred from running.
The targeted officials include Ahmad Jannati, a powerful cleric accused of overseeing the disqualification of candidates as part of the Guardian Council. The ultra-conservative also plays a key role in a body that selects the regime's supreme leader.
"The Trump Administration will not tolerate the manipulation of elections to favor the regime's malign agenda, and this action exposes those senior regime officials responsible for preventing the Iranian people from freely choosing their leaders," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.