At least 17 Yemeni civilians were killed and seven others injured in a roadside bomb blast in the country’s southern province of al-Dhalea on Monday, a police official told media.

The blast occurred in Qatabah district of al-Dhalea province when civilian vehicles running along a main road touched off an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted by terrorists, Xinhua reported.

Local medical sources confirmed that the violent explosion resulted in the killing of 17 civilians.

A local government official blamed the al-Qaida militant group for planting the IED in the district of Qatabah in an obvious attempt to blow up military vehicles passing through the area.

“The al-Qaida terrorists apparently planned to target the pro-government forces by IED but they failed and killed innocent civilians,” the government source said.

The Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, seen by the United States as the global terror network’s most dangerous branch, has exploited years of deadly conflict between Yemen’s government and Houthi rebels to expand its presence, especially in Shabwa and Abyan provinces.

Yemen’s government, allied with a Saudi-led Arab military coalition, has for years been battling Shiite Houthi rebels for control of the impoverished country.

UN statistics showed that more than 8,000 people have been killed in Yemen’s conflict, most of them civilians, since the Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict in 2015.

The impoverished Arab country is also suffering the world’s largest cholera outbreak, where about 5,000 cases are reported every day.