Thirteen die in attack on Aden airport moments after new Yemen cabinet lands
ADEN: At least 13 people were killed and dozens more injured in an attack on Aden airport on Wednesday after a plane carrying a newly formed cabinet landed in support of the Saudi government in Yemen.
Heavy explosions and gunfire were heard at the airport shortly after the plane arrived from Riyadh, witnesses said. Two security sources reported a large number of casualties. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Cabinet members, including Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik, as well as Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Said al-Jaber, were safely transferred to the city’s presidential palace, witnesses and Saudi media said.
“We and members of the government are in the temporary capital of Aden and everyone is fine,” Maeen wrote on Twitter from Maasheq Palace. “The cowardly terrorist act, which targeted Aden Airport, is part of the war against the Yemeni state and its great people.”
Jaber wrote on Twitter: “Peace, security and stability will prevail due to the strong will of the Yemenis and their courageous government.”
A local security source said three mortar shells landed in the airport lobby.
The newly formed cabinet brings together the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi with southern separatists, aimed at fulfilling a Saudi goal of ending a dispute between Riyadh’s allies.
The two groups are the main Yemeni factions in a southern, Saudi-backed alliance fighting the northern-controlled Houthi movement, including the capital Sanaa.
Live footage from Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya channel showed dozens of people leaving the plane when a first explosion hit the airport lobby. Heavy gunfire ensued from armored vehicles, with black and white smoke plumes rising from the scene.
Other video showed damage to the terminal’s concrete walls and smashed glass.
The southern port city of Aden has been surrounded by violence over a rift between separatists and Hadi’s government, based there after it was ousted from the Houthi capital in 2014.
The Southern Transitional Separatist Council (STC), which is seeking independence for southern Yemen, declared self-government in Aden earlier this year, triggering clashes and complicating UN efforts to force a permanent ceasefire in the general conflict.
The Saudi-led coalition announced the new power-sharing cabinet this month, after more than a year of intense Saudi mediation between the government and separatists.
Yemeni UN envoy Martin Griffiths condemned the attack in a statement: “I want the strength of the cabinet to cope with the difficult tasks ahead. This unacceptable act of violence is a tragic reminder of the importance of bringing Yemen back to peace. “