Troops retake key military base in Yemen's Aden after militant attack

Yemeni government forces Wednesday recaptured a key military base in their temporary capital, the southern city of Aden, after it was overrun by suspected al-Qaeda fighters earlier in the day, military officials said.

Reinforcements were rushed to the al-Solban base near Aden airport and succeeded in recapturing it, the officials, who declined to be named, said.

The troops were backed up by Apache assault helicopters belonging to a Saudi-led military alliance, they added.

At least 10 soldiers were killed and seven others injured in the early morning assault, which started when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in explosive-rigged cars at checkpoints guarding the entrance to the base, according to military sources.

Following the two explosions, gunmen believed to belong to the al-Qaeda terrorist network attempted to storm the base and managed to barricade themselves into buildings in and around it.

There was no immediate death toll for the attackers.

Yemeni President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi has declared Aden his temporary capital while Sana'a is held by mainly Shiite Houthi rebels who captured it in late 2014.

Hadi loyalists and allies backed by Gulf troops, mainly from the United Arab Emirates, drove attacking Houthi forces back from Aden in mid-2015.

However, they have been unable to impose order in areas they nominally hold, with both al-Qaeda and a recently formed branch of the rival Islamic State extremist group carrying out frequent attacks.

Al-Qaeda has fought alongside anti-Houthi forces in some areas but has also seized control of some southern districts behind the lines of the disparate pro-government coalition.

Yemen's conflict intensified in March 2015 when a Houthi advance on Aden prompted Saudi Arabia and mainly Gulf allies to start an air campaign against the group.

Saudi Arabia fears that the Houthis will give their regional rival, predominantly Shiite Iran, a strategic foothold in the Arabian Peninsula.

Saudi leaders have made conciliatory comments towards the Houthis in recent months but peace talks that started in Kuwait City in April were suspended for two weeks last Wednesday without any breakthrough.

Last update: Wed, 06/07/2016 - 19:34
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