Masked militants set off a large car bomb outside a security headquarters in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden early Sunday killing at least five soldiers before storming the compound, officials said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters, the security officials said the militants placed snipers on the roof and gunned down most of the security forces inside. The officials gave conflicting accounts of what happened next inside the building. They initially said that the militants had taken an unknown number of people hostage. Later they said that they opened cell gates and released prisoners.
Witnesses said at least four militant snipers could be seen on the roof of the compound. They also described mayhem as dead bodies littering the compound’s front courtyard couldn’t be retrieved because of the continuous sniper fire. Shallal al-Shayae, the security chief, was not inside the compound at the time of the attack, the officials said.
In an online statement, the local affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they killed 50 soldiers and identified the bomber as Abu Othman al-Hadrami.
A Saudi-led coalition meanwhile launched a wave of airstrikes — starting overnight and continuing until noon the next day — on the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, apparently in response to a ballistic missile fired by the rebels toward an international airport on the outskirts of Riyadh, the Saudi capital. Saudi Arabia said it shot down the missile before it hit its target, with fragments landing in an uninhabited area north of the capital.
U.S. President Donald Trump was quick to blame Iran. “A shot was just taken by Iran, in my opinion, at Saudi Arabia. And our system knocked it down,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the Patriot missile batteries Saudi Arabia purchased from the U.S.
Iran’s Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami has denied his country was involved in the incident. “Does anyone ask the United States what are you giving to Saudi Arabia?” he was quoted by the semi-official ISNA news agency as saying.
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SOURCE: CBS News, The Associated Press