flag_of_the_islamic_state_of_iraq_islamska država, zastava.png
Photograph: hr.wikipedia.org

At least 12 people were killed Thursday in a car bombing claimed by the Islamic State terrorist group near the presidential palace in Yemen's provisional capital Aden.

The dead included security guards and civilians, security officials said.

At least 15 people were injured in the blast that occurred at a security checkpoint located some 1,500 metres from the palace, they added.

President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi was inside the palace when the bomb went off, according to Dubai-based broadcaster Al Arabiya.

Shortly after the blast, a helicopter was seen taking off from the palace, witnesses said.

Spokesman for Aden's local council Nazar Anwar said that the attack had targeted a convoy of the city's recently appointed governor, who was on his way to the palace.

The car exploded when security guards stopped it near the checkpoint, according to Anwar.

The governor and his bodyguards were not hurt.

The Islamic State, in an online statement, said the bombing was a suicide attack, killing at least 10 presidential guards and injuring 20 others.

The statement could not be independently verified.

Hadi's government is based in Aden as Iran-backed rebels are in control of the capital Sana'a.

In recent months, Aden has seen a spate of attacks targeting Hadi's loyalists.

Last month, the governor of Aden, Jaafar Saad, was killed in a car bombing, claimed by Islamic State.

Pro-Hadi forces had recaptured Aden from Houthi rebels about seven months ago.

But the uptick in attacks in Aden shows that Hadi's government has yet to tighten its control on the southern port city.

Yemen's conflict has intensified since March when the Houthis first advanced on Aden, prompting Saudi Arabia and allies to launch airstrikes against the Shiite group to support Hadi.

Saudi Arabia fears that the rebels will give its regional rival, Shiite Iran, a strategic foothold on the Arabian Peninsula.

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