Middle East

At least 14 killed in Yemen suicide attack as PM reportedly prepares to flee Aden

Armed supporters of the separatist Southern Movement patrol a street following clashes in the southern port city of Aden, Yemen, 28 January 2018. Source: AAP

At least 14 soldiers have been killed in a suspected Islamist extremist suicide attack in Yemen's south. Security officials say Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid Bin Daghar as separatists surrounded the presidential palace.

Fourteen soldiers were killed on Tuesday in a suicide attack by suspected Islamist extremists in southern Yemen, a senior military official said.

The bombing struck a checkpoint manned by UAE-trained special operations forces in Ataq, capital of the oil-rich province of Shabwa, a high-ranking source in the Yemeni army said.

The source, who requested anonymity as he was not authorised to brief the press, said the attack was likely the work of Islamist extremists, but declined to give further details.

Another military source in Shabwa said at least 10 people had been killed.

Shabwa is controlled by Yemen's Saudi-backed government, which has been locked in a fight against the country's Shiite Huthi rebels since 2014, and is also now battling separatists in the southern port city of Aden.

Islamist networks, including Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State group, have exploited the war to expand their presence in southern Yemen.

The UAE is a key member of a military alliance, led by Saudi Arabia, that for three years has provided crucial support for the government's fight for territorial control.

In August, Yemen's Emirati-trained special forces launched a US-backed operation against AQAP, also the target of a long-running US drone campaign.

The Yemen war has claimed more than 9,200 lives since Saudi Arabia and its military allies joined the conflict in March 2015, triggering what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Yemen PM prepares to flee

Yemen's prime minister is preparing to flee the country for Saudi Arabia after separatists seized the area around the presidential palace in the southern port city of Aden in fierce battles overnight, security officials say.

According to the officials, fighters loyal to the so-called Southern Transitional Council fought all way to the gates of the Palace of Maashiq in the district of Crater in Aden, forcing President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's troops to abandon their positions.

The officials said Mr Hadi's prime minister and several Cabinet members would leave imminently to Riyadh.

The palace is the seat of Yemen's internationally backed government.

The separatist forces did not enter the palace itself and were stopped by Saudi Arabian troops who have been guarding the palace for the past months.

But a senior government official told The Associated Press Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid Bin Daghar and several ministers remain inside and that the separatists have not seized the palace itself.

The official declined to say whether the prime minister was to leave Aden. The security officials and the government official spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations.

- with AAP

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