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15 killed in Yemen attacks claimed by Islamic State

Two apparent Islamic State attacks have killed at least 15 people and wounded 30 in Yemen's largest province, security officials said, in the latest sign the extremists are taking advantage of the country's civil war to expand their reach.

The synchronized attacks targeted checkpoints manned by security forces loyal to Yemen's internationally recognised government in the cities of Shibam and al-Qatn, both in Hadramawt province, officials said.

A car bomb detonated amid the fighting in Shibam, according to video shot by a local resident that corresponded to other reporting about the assault.

The security officials provided the casualty figures. A claim for the attack circulated online by Islamic State supporters offered a higher death toll of 50 killed.

The Islamic State claim corresponded with others previously released by the group. IS has claimed a series of bombings that have killed 152 and wounded 345 people this year in Yemen, according to an AP count.

Earlier in the day, officials blamed al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen's local branch of the militant group, for the attacks. Al Qaida fighters have captured much of Hadramawt province and its capital Mukalla, amid the civil war gripping the country. Washington considers the branch to be the world's most dangerous.

Yemen's civil war pits Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies against the internationally backed government forces and a Saudi-led coalition. At least 5,700 people have been killed in the conflict since March 26, including 830 women and children, the United Nations said.

The war has pushed the country to the brink of famine as the UN says more than 21 million people - 80% of the population - need humanitarian assistance.

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