ADEN (Reuters) - Warplanes believed to belong to the Saudi-led coalition bombed and set ablaze an al Qaeda compound in southern Yemen on Monday, residents said, the latest attack to target the militant group that controls at least two cities in the country.
Islamist militants have exploited the Yemen war between Iran-allied Houthis and forces loyal to Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to seize at least two provincial capitals in south and eastern Yemen, using them as bases to recruit more followers.
Residents said two planes launched rockets into an old office of the local government in Zinjibar, the Abyan provincial capital, which is held by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), setting the building on fire.
They said an unknown number of al Qaeda militants were in the compound at the time and were believed to have been killed or wounded. Apache helicopters, also believed by residents to belong to the Saudi-led coalition, were later seen flying over the city.
A local official said on Sunday that warplanes launched four air strikes on an AQAP camp near the port city of Mukalla, killing and wounding a number of militants.
It was not immediately possible to confirm the affiliation of the aircraft involved in Monday’s reported air strike. A spokesman for the Saudi-led alliance could not be contacted for immediate comment.
U.S. aircraft have staged attacks on AQAP fighters in Yemen in recent weeks.
More than 6,200 people have been killed in the Yemen war that began in March last year, after the Houthis forced Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.
Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Mark Heinrich