Yemen vows justice following deadly ISIL-claimed suicide attack

By Abu Bakr al-Yamani in Sanaa

A wounded Yemeni man arrives at a hospital on December 10th after a deadly suicide attack on al-Sawlaban military camp in the port city of Aden. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

A wounded Yemeni man arrives at a hospital on December 10th after a deadly suicide attack on al-Sawlaban military camp in the port city of Aden. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

Yemenis have strongly condemned a deadly Saturday (December 10th) suicide attack claimed by the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) that targeted soldiers outside al-Sawlaban military camp in the port city of Aden.

"We have 48 dead and 29 wounded," all soldiers, Aden health department chief Abdel Nasser al-Wali told AFP on Sunday, updating an earlier toll.

An attacker wearing an explosives belt blew himself up among a gathering of soldiers in front of the main gate of al-Sawlaban camp in Khormaksar district.

The camp was the target of a similar attack claimed by al-Qaeda in July that left 10 dead and dozens wounded.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Maj. Gen. Hussein Arab is heading a committee formed to investigate the incident at the request of Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghr and President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The committee has ordered compensation of one million riyals ($4,000) to be disbursed to each martyr’s family, and half a million riyals ($2,000) to each wounded soldier.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Army Chief of Staff has vowed to pursue those behind the crime until the rights of all victims are enforced and to eliminate hotbeds of terrorism.

"This sordid terrorist attack aims to spread chaos, murder and bloodshed, and disrupt public life," the Office of the Army Chief of Staff said in a statement carried by local media.

Such acts "will not deter the army and security forces from continuing their efforts to establish security and stability and confront and eradicate terrorist elements and rid the world of their evils", the statement said.

Public outrage over killings

"These terrorist acts are the result of the absence of the role of scholars, who educate society on the tolerance and moderation of Islam," said Sheikh Jabri Ibrahim of the Ministry of Endowments and Guidance.

This has enabled the emergence "of those who are ignorant of religious sciences and sharia and impersonate scholars by wearing the robe and amama (turban) and issuing false fatwas", he told Al-Mashareq.

This resulted in the spread of rejectionist culture and violence, Ibrahim said, noting that sharia prohibits the killing of both Muslims and non-Muslims.

He called on scholars to publicly clarify these matters in their speeches, lessons and sermons "to spread the culture of the prohibition of killing".

This would help to stem the propagation of extremist ideology that "works secretly to instill the culture of hatred, extremism, takfir and disdain for people and their lives", he said.

Criminal and terrorist acts are spawned by this type of thinking, he added.

"Public outrage is sweeping across society over this terrorist act," said Nasser Jubran, secretary general of Aden's Khormaksar district.

"These actions are not sanctioned by any religion, divine teachings, norms, laws or international conventions," he told Al-Mashareq, calling for adequate security measures to be put in place to protect people from terrorist attacks.

The targeting of new recruits

"The resentment over the security situation stems from the recurrence of such crimes against our youth, and in the same area in Aden, and in front of al-Sawlaban camp as well as elsewhere, and in the same manner, targeting the same victims who came only to pursue job opportunities," Jubran said.

The sight of the victims’ bodies was "overwhelmingly horrific and tragic", he said, adding that 12 of the victims were from al-Mahfad directorate in Abyan province and the rest were from Modiya directorate in Abyan.

All of them had come to register for enlistment, he said, and had not previously been involved in battles against extremist groups.

"Yemeni citizens are powerless to do anything but condemn these acts and mitigate the horror of this tragedy that claims the lives of dozens," Aden resident Salem Mahfouz told Al-Mashareq.

"The victims went there only to enlist and gain a source of income for themselves and their families to ease their burdens and meet their minimum living requirements," he said.

"The terrorist acts committed by al-Qaeda and ISIL in the southern provinces necessitate the confrontation and elimination of the hotbeds of terrorism so society can be rid of all their evils," Mahfouz said.

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