Aden airport after several explosions as the newly formed Yemeni government lands, Aden, Yemen, December 30 2020. Picture: REUTERS/FAWAZ SALMAN
Aden airport after several explosions as the newly formed Yemeni government lands, Aden, Yemen, December 30 2020. Picture: REUTERS/FAWAZ SALMAN

Aden — Multiple explosions and gunfire rocked Yemen’s Aden airport on Wednesday as a new cabinet flew in from its refuge in Saudi Arabia, killing about 30 people and wounding more than 50, according to the Aden health ministry.

The Al-Masdar news website said a deputy minister of public works was killed, and two other vice ministers were wounded in the attack in the southern port city, which Al Hadath TV said took place as cabinet members prepared to step off the plane. They had returned to Aden amid a heavy security presence and were whisked to their headquarters at the presidential palace after the assault.

President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi blamed Iran-backed Houthi rebels who have been fighting the government since 2014, and vowed that violence won’t deter the government from working to normalise life in the war-battered nation and end its civil war, the Saba news agency reported. No-one claimed responsibility.

Witness Saleh Mohammed said by phone that he heard three blasts, gunfire and clashes as the cabinet members arrived, and had seen bodies at the scene. Saudi-owned Ekhbariya TV said there had been a drone attack and one of its reporters was injured.

The formation of the cabinet had been hailed as a cementing of the fragile detente between the government of the exiled Hadi and the separatist Southern Transitional Council, allies in the fight to dislodge rebels who control the capital, Sana’a’, and other chunks of the country. Their alliance frayed last year after separatists seized control of Aden and other southern cities, but was mended under a power-sharing deal brokered by Saudi Arabia.

Hadi’s government, which had fled to Aden after the fall of Sana’a, has been living in exile in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, since the clashes with council forces last year.

The new government will have to address urgent issues such as the devaluation of the riyal, providing basic services and implementing the security and military parts of the November 2019 power-sharing agreement. The country is in the throes of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, fed by a Saudi-led coalition’s five-year attempt to crush the rebellion and restore Hadi to power.

The UN’ special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, who has led unsuccessful efforts to end the devastating civil war, called the attack “a tragic reminder of the importance of bringing Yemen urgently back on the path towards peace”.

Bloomberg

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