Ten Yemeni soldiers trained and backed by the United Arab Emirates were killed Wednesday in an attack by armed Islamist extremists in southwest Yemen, military and medical sources said.
Five gunmen were also killed in the attack on a military post in the Hajr district of the port city Mukalla, a high-ranking military source said on condition of anonymity.
A source at the Ibn Sina military hospital in Mukalla confirmed that 10 soldiers had been pronounced dead after the attack.
Mukalla, located on the Gulf of Aden, has been controlled by the Saudi-backed government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi since 2016, when al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen withdrew from the city.
The UAE is a key member of a military coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, which has fought alongside the Yemeni government against Yemen’s Houthi rebels as well as Islamist groups.
The UAE trains and supports elite forces in southeast and southwest Yemen, including brigades stationed in Mukalla known as “Quwat al-Nokhba”.
The troops were key in driving al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula out of Mukalla in April 2016, one year after they overran the coastal city in the midst of Yemen’s civil war.
Islamist networks, including AQAP and the Islamic State group, have exploited the Yemen war to expand their presence in pockets across southern Yemen.
Military outposts have been regularly targeted by suicide bombings and armed attacks, some of them claimed by AQAP or IS.
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