The Houthis, Yemeni rebels backed by Iran, are accused of being responsible for the attack on Wednesday when the unity government arrived in Yemen’s provisional capital.
Explosions left at least 26 dead and more than 50 injured on Wednesday at the airport in Aden, the provisional capital of warring Yemen, where the new unity government had just arrived, which a minister accused Houthi rebels of to be behind this attack.
“These terrorist acts (…) will not discourage the legitimate government from exercising its duties,” Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi said, without naming anyone responsible, according to the official Saba news agency.
But Foreign Minister Ahmed ben Mubarak accused him of the Houthis, Yemeni-backed Yemeni rebels who stormed the capital Sanaa in September 2014 and seized large parts of the country, sparking a deadly war. “Based on all current information,” the “criminal” attack targeting the government was “perpetrated by the Houthis,” he said on Twitter.
He pledged Thursday to “restore stability” to his war-torn country in the aftermath of the deadly attack. “The government is determined to fulfill its duties and work to restore stability in Yemen. This terrorist act will not dissuade him, ”he told AFP.
At least two explosions
According to an AFP correspondent, at least two explosions occurred when the plane carrying the government landed and officials started exiting the plane. Medical sources told AFP at least 26 dead and more than 50 injured in a new death toll.
Sounds of explosions and gunfire erupted before thick black smoke erupted from an airport building as debris was thrown around, sparking panic among those present, according to footage released by Saudi Al-Hadath TV channel.
Call for an investigation
Civilians, security guards and local officials are among the victims but all members of the government “are doing well,” government spokesman Rajeh Badi told AFP, who called for an “international investigation”.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said one of its employees was killed and three others were injured.
“The Yemeni people have suffered terrible suffering over the past five years. A day like today only adds to the pain, ”said Red Cross director of operations Dominik Stillhart.
The plane was arriving from Riyadh where the Yemeni government had gone into exile after the rebels took Sanaa. Aden – a large city in the south – had become the temporary capital.
The anti-Houthi front bringing together pro-government forces and southern separatists – independent before it merged with the North in 1990 – received support from March 2015 from a Saudi-led coalition, but fell apart. cracked in recent years.
To close ranks, Ryad negotiated a power-sharing agreement in the South and had been trying for more than a year to form a new unity government in order to maintain the unity of the coalition against the Houthis, on the verge of take control of Marib, the last stronghold of government in the North.
A unity government was formed on December 18, under the aegis of Saudi Arabia.
In a tweet, Saudi Ambassador Mohammed Al Jaber denounced a “cowardly terrorist attack targeting the Yemeni people”.
The United Arab Emirates, another pillar of the coalition led by Riyadh and seen as a support for the separatists, considered the attack a “plan to undermine the chances of establishing security and stability in Yemen”.
On Wednesday evening, another explosion took place near the presidential palace in Aden, where the government is based, according to a security source who did not report any injuries. According to the coalition, “a Houthi drone tried to target the palace but was destroyed.”
The Houthi rebels, but also the jihadist groups Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, have in the past carried out attacks against the Yemeni government and its supporters.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned a “deplorable attack”, sending his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Yemeni government, his deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said in a statement.
It is “a tragic reminder of the importance of urgently putting Yemen back on the path to peace,” United Nations envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, noted on Twitter. “The European Union strongly condemns the attack,” said a spokesperson, describing the act as “unacceptable”, while recalling its desire to “preserve sovereignty, independence, stability and unity territorial ”of Yemen.
France for its part condemned “with the greatest firmness” the attack, adding to continue its “mobilization to put an end to the conflict” in the country.
The war in Yemen has plunged this country, the poorest in the Arabian Peninsula, into the worst humanitarian crisis in the world according to the UN, with a population on the brink of famine and threatened by epidemics.