ISIL bomb attack targets Yemeni presidential palace in Aden

The attack killed seven guards and civilians and injured 15 others injured but the president escaped unharmed.

A violent explosion targeted the checkpoint of the main gate of the presidential palace in Aden, Yemen on Januray 28, 2016. Courtesy Asa'ad Aman
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ADEN // An ISIL-claimed suicide bombing targeted a checkpoint outside the Yemeni presidential palace in Aden on Thursday, killing at least eight people.

The victims included guards and civilians.

The palace houses the internationally recognised government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi but Mr Hadi and his cabinet ministers escaped unharmed.

"When the car stopped at the checkpoint, we went to inspect it immediately as we do any another car, then it exploded," Moataz Bwaika, a guard at the main gate where the explosion took place, told The National.



The main gate is 1.5 kilometres from Mr Hadi’s residence; in between the two are three other checkpoints.

The attack also injured 21 others and the death toll could climb, said a security source on condition of anonymity.

Asa’ad Aman, 22, who witnessed the attack from his house 50 metres away, said the explosion was “unprecedented” in Aden.

“I saw the corpses in front of my eyes. Two houses near to my house have been destroyed by the explosion, while the people are trying to pick up the corpses from under the ruins of the houses,” Mr Aman added.

In a statement on Twitter, ISIL identified the suicide car bomber as Abu Hanifa Al Hollandi – an Arabic nom de guerre suggesting he was Dutch.

The group also posted pictures that appeared to show the car bomb speeding toward barricades manned by presidential guards. It was not possible to verify their claim.

The attack comes amid a wave of assassinations in Aden and just days after prime minister Khalid Bahah returned to the southern port city with his cabinet to resume work from there.A coalition of mainly Arab states led by Saudi Arabia is fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen to restore Mr Hadi’s government which earlier fled to Saudi Arabia.

But both ISIL and Yemen’s Al Qaeda affiliate took advantage of the power vacuum and have since built a strong presence in Aden.

* Additional reporting from Associated Press