The death toll from a bomb blast in the Yemen port city of Aden continued to climb Monday, as rescuers clawed through the wreckage of an army recruitment center ripped apart by a suspected Islamic State suicide bomber.
By evening, authorities said at least 54 pro-government recruits were dead and about 70 others wounded, in the worst single attack on the Arabian peninsula this year. The French news agency, quoting local medical sources, placed the toll at 71 dead and 98 wounded.
Authorities say the blast targeted a school compound where recruits loyal to the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi were registering for military training.
Witnesses said the bomber entered the gated training compound behind a truck that was carrying breakfast to the recruits. Most of the wounded were ferried to local hospitals run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), whose facilities were overwhelmed by the carnage
A short while after the blast, Islamic State issued a statement broadcast by its Amaq news agency that claimed responsibility.
Yemen is embroiled in an 18-month civil war pitting the government of internationally recognized President Hadi and his Saudi coalition against Iran-backed Houthis, who rose up in 2014 after what they described as years of government discrimination.
The United Nations says more than 6,500 people, at least half of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict.
Hadi's supporters have repeatedly accused Houthi-backed former president Ali Abdullah Saleh of using Islamic State and al-Qaida fighters loosely allied in the fight against the government to target Hadi's forces.
The U.S. military in recent months has carried out numerous drone strikes against fighters linked to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Source: Voice of America