Yemeni government evacuated as blasts hit Aden

2015-10-06 16:51
Smoke rises following an explosion that hit Hotel al-Qasr. (Wael Qubady, AP)

Smoke rises following an explosion that hit Hotel al-Qasr. (Wael Qubady, AP)

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Sana'a - Yemeni ministers were evacuated on Tuesday from their temporary headquarters in the southern city of Aden after a series of explosions that reportedly killed 15 Arab soldiers and Yemeni militiamen.

Prime Minister Khaled al-Bahah wrote on his official Facebook page that two rockets fell in the grounds of the city's Qasr Hotel, where members of the government have been staying while the capital Sana'a remains in the hands of the Houthi rebels.

There were conflicting reports as to the cause of the blasts, which also hit two buildings used by United Arab Emirates forces backing Bahah's government.

A government official, who declined to be quoted by name, told dpa the attacks had been carried out with car bombs, and eyewitnesses interviewed by local newspaper Aden al-Ghad confirmed that account.

However, another official told Aden al-Ghad that the blasts were caused by rockets, as indicated by Bahah.

The UAE army command said that four of its troops had been killed in the explosions, while the official UAE news agency put the total death toll at 15 including local loyalist militiamen.

The agency blamed the attack on the Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Car bombs and suicide attacks are typically used by the Yemeni branches of al-Qaeda and Islamic State, while the Houthis and allied Yemeni military units killed more than 65 Gulf troops in a rocket attack in eastern Yemen in early September.

UAE troops and local fighters drove the mainly Shi'ite Houthi rebels, whose power base is in northern Yemen's tribal highlands, from Aden in July.

Bahah and members of his government returned to the city last month, but it remains plagued by insecurity, with reported activity by al-Qaeda and the Yemeni branch of Islamic State.

President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi visited Aden in late September, guarded by Yemeni loyalist forces and troops from a Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis.

Hadi, himself a native of the formerly independent south, returned a few days later to Saudi Arabia where he has resided since the Houthis first advanced on Aden in March.

Bahah vowed to remain in Yemen despite the attack, which he too implicitly blamed on the Houthis.

"Our morale is growing as we work among our people to ensure that, God willing, the permanent peace we desire prevails," he wrote.

Recent days have seen fierce fighting reported along Yemen's coast near the Bab al-Mandib Strait at the entrance to the Red Sea, and in Marib province east of Sana'a.

Anti-Houthi fighters claim to have recaptured the area around the Bab al-Mandib Strait and strategic points in Marib from the rebels.

Sources in the anti-Houthi camp on Monday evening told dpa that 20 Houthi fighters and 40 of their own forces had been killed in fighting and "mopping-up operations" in Marib.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other mainly Gulf states have been engaged in an intensive air campaign against the rebels since Hadi fled the country in March.

The Sunni Gulf states fear that the rebels will give their regional rival, Shi'ite Iran, a foothold on the Arabian Peninsula.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  isis  |  yemen

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