'It was like doomsday': Yemeni soldiers tell of camp attack 'nightmare'

Houthi missile attack on a military base in South Yemen killed at least 40 soldiers and wounded many more

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Nadhmi Abdu Yehya and his comrade Hasan from the third battalion of Yemeni pro-government Al Amaliqa brigades had just finished breakfast and were heading to training when they heard a roar followed by an explosion that ripped through the dormitory they had left moments ago.

"I thought it’s doomsday,” Mr Abdu Yehya, 38, said as he recalled the scene of the Houthi insurgents’ ballistic missiles attack on the training camp in southern Al Anad base complex on Sunday. Forty soldiers were killed and 92 injured in the ambush, according to latest official toll.

Nadhmi Abdu a soldier survived the deadly attack receiving treatment in a hospital in Aden. Ali Mahmood / The National

As the explosion dumped them several metres away, a barely conscious and bleeding Mr Abdu Yehya hardly crawled to where his friend Hasan was lying in a pool of blood. He tried to resuscitate him but it would be too late.

"My friend was hardly breathing but still alive, I tried to do CPR for him but after a few minutes he drew his last breath and died," Mr Abdu Yehya said, still in complete shock.

Dozens of those who survived the bloodbath of Sunday were transferred to hospitals in Aden and Lahej.

The dormitory in the training camp was directly hit by two of four ballistic missiles that targeted the training yard also.

Photos from the scene showed charred and ripped off bodies of tens of soldiers who were still inside the hangar when it was targeted.

"The blast was massive. I was thrown few metres out of the hangar, I felt like someone kicked me to hell " Fhakhruddin Hasan, another soldier getting treatment for a shrapnel injury in the back, told The National, after a visit by a senior Yemeni official.

Mr Hasan remained conscious despite his injuries and the thick suffocating black smoke that engulfed everyone and everything following the attack.

“When I looked around, the scene was horrific, all my colleagues in the hangar were either burnt up beyond recognition or turned into pieces, few of them remained alive but suffering fatal burns," he said.

“I wasn’t badly injured but I’m not well. I am still haunted by the images inside the hangar... This will stay in my memory until I die.”

Mr Alawi Al Nouba, Aden's deputy for the martyrs and the injured, condemned the loss of lives of “brave young men” while confirming that dozens of soldiers are still unaccounted for.

Mr Al Nouba urged the international community to exert whatever efforts possible to prevent arms from reaching the hands of the Iran-backed militias.

Radhwan Mohammed, 32, was in the training yard when the rockets landed. He escaped death with slight shrapnel injuries.

"Words can't describe what happened. Imagine you are starting your day training, laughing, joking with your comrades and the next moment you are surrounded by their corpses,” he said.

Radhwan Mohammed a soldier injured amid the Houthi attack receives treatment in a hospital in Aden. Ali Mahmood / The National

“I can't sleep. Nightmare of the explosions chase me every single moment. I feel devastated and heartbroken."

Mr Mohammed said 1,250 soldiers were participating in the training course at the camp before the explosions. But he doesn’t know how many of them survived.

“The latest toll is 40 killed and 92 injured,” Lt Capt Mohammed Al Naqib told The National.

“As long as we are fighting against such criminal militias who get such advanced drones arms from Iran we will always have people sacrificing their lives in such coward attacks,” Lt Capt AL Naqib said.

“We learnt our lessons. They [Houthis] are targeting the southern forces because we are resilient in our battle against them and we will not back up."

Updated: November 01, 2021, 12:57 PM