ADEN/CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamic State in Yemen said it carried out a suicide bombing that killed ten soldiers in the provincial capital Mukalla on Thursday, hours before the prime minister was due to visit the city, which until two weeks ago was a militant stronghold.
Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr is on his first visit to Mukalla, a port city on the Arabian Sea, since it was recaptured by government soldiers in April after a year-long occupation by Al Qaeda.
Islamic State said in an online statement that one of its members had blown himself up in a car near government troops.
Medical sources said ten soldiers had been killed at a naval camp near the port of Khalaf in Mukalla when a car exploded. About 15 soldiers were wounded, they said.
“The explosion is not going to affect the visit or its aims,” a government source told Reuters.
Mukalla, the capital of the vast eastern province of Hadramout and important shipping hub, had been the centre of a rich mini-state that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) built up over the past year as it took control of an almost 600-km (370-mile) band of Arabian Sea coastline.
In late April, Yemeni and Emirati soldiers seized Mukalla from al Qaeda, which withdrew its men among little fighting.
Islamic State in Yemen has criticised AQAP for losing Mukalla to the Gulf-backed Yemeni forces, and said the long-established group had suffered its territorial losses because it had chosen to be populist rather than following the commands of God.
Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf in Aden and Omar Fahmy and Mohammed Ghobari in Cairo; Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky