Blast at Aden airport kills 25, wounds 110: Yemeni officials
(Sourced from PTI)
A large explosion struck the airport in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, shortly after a plane carrying the newly formed Cabinet landed there, security officials said. At least 25 people were killed and 110 wounded in the blast. However, no one on the government plane was hurt. Yemen's government blamed Iran-backed Houthi rebels for the attack. But the rebel officials have not commented.
The officials later reported another explosion close to a palace in the city where the Cabinet members were transferred following the airport attack. The Saudi-led coalition later shot down a bomb-laden drone that attempted to target the palace, the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV channel said. Associated Press footage from the airport showed members of the government delegation disembarking as the blast shook the grounds.
The ministers were returning to Aden from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, after being sworn-in last week as part of a Cabinet reshuffle. The reshuffle was seen as a major step toward closing a dangerous rift between the government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and southern separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates. They are nominal allies in Yemen's year-long civil war.
Yemeni Communication Minister Naguib al-Awg said that he heard two explosions, suggesting they were drone attacks. "It would have been a disaster if the plane was bombed," al-Awg said, insisting the plane was the target of the attack as it was supposed to land earlier.
Many ministers rushed back inside the plane or ran down the stairs. Thick smoke rose into the air from near the terminal building. Officials said they saw bodies lying on the tarmac and elsewhere at the airport. Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed and the others were quickly whisked from the airport to the Mashiq Palace. Forces sealed off the area around the palace.
PM Saeed tweeted that he and his Cabinet were safe and unhurt. He called the explosions a cowardly terrorist act that was part of the war on the Yemeni state. Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak's ministry said that the Houthi rebels fired four ballistic missiles at the airport, and launched drone attacks at the palace, the Cabinet's headquarters. No evidence was provided.
Among those killed, three were workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross and reporter Adeeb al-Ganabi of Yemeni Belquees TV. Three other Red Cross workers were also wounded and Information Minister Moammar al-Eryani said at least 10 other journalists were wounded. "This is a tragic day for the ICRC and for the people of Yemen," said Dominik Stillhart, ICRC's Director of Operations.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said that Guterres condemned the attack. Anwar Gargash, UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said the attack was meant to destroy the power-sharing deal between Yemen's government and the southern separatists. US Ambassador in Yemen Christopher Henzel said the US condemned the attacks. Egypt, Jordan, and other Arab and Western nations also condemned the attack.