22 killed in Aden airport blast as Yemen’s unity gov’t arrives

A huge explosion at a main airport in Yemen’s southern city of Aden killed 22 people on Wednesday, shortly after a new unity government arrived at the facility from Saudi Arabia, the Interior Ministry said.

Fifty others were injured in the blast, the ministry added.

The injury included airport workers and people who were there to welcome members of the new government, the ministry said.

The Red Cross said three of its employees, two Yemeni and a Rwandan national, were killed in the blast and three more injured.

Two of the employees killed had originally been reported as unaccounted for.

“Our staff were transiting through the airport with other civilians. This is a tragic day for us and the people of  #Yemen,” the humanitarian organisation tweeted.

In the wake of the blast, the members of government of the war-torn country were safely transferred to a presidential palace in Aden, a government official earlier told dpa.

So far, there has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

However, Minister of Information Moammar al-Eryani blamed the explosion on Yemen’s Iran-linked Houthi rebels.

“We assure our [people] that all cabinet members (are) safe, & cowardly terrorist attack by Iran-backed Houthi militia on Aden airport will not deter us (from) our duty,” he tweeted in English.

The United Nations’ envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, condemned the attack.

“This unacceptable act of violence is a tragic reminder of the importance of bringing Yemen urgently back on the path towards peace,” he wrote on Twitter.

“The attacks were timed with the arrival of new Yemeni government officials and once again demonstrate the malicious intent of those trying to destabilize Yemen,” U.S. Department of State spokesperson Cale Brown said in a statement.

“Such attacks will not stop or undermine efforts to bring a lasting peace that the Yemeni people deserve,” he added.

Aden has been Yemen’s temporary capital since the Houthis overran the capital Sana’a in late 2014 in a devastating power struggle.

On Saturday, President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi swore in the new government that was formed under a power-sharing deal brokered by Saudi Arabia last year.

Reacting to the blast, Hadi, who is living in Saudi Arabia, called on the government to do its job from Aden.

“The terrorist acts carried out by the Houthi militias supported by Iran, and their militant terrorist groups will not discourage the legitimate government from undertaking its tasks from the temporary capital, Aden,” he said, according to Yemen’s official news agency Saba.

Hadi ordered a government probe, in coordination with a Saudi-led military coalition, Saba reported.

The 24-strong government includes members of the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) as part of a bid to end a power struggle between the secessionists and loyalists to Hadi.

The new government represents Yemen’s northern and southern areas with an equal number of members from each region.

The STC, formed in 2017, is backed by the United Arab Emirates, while Hadi’s government is backed by Saudi Arabia.

Both are part of the Saudi-led coalition formed in 2015 to fight the Houthi rebels.

Yemen’s conflict has pushed the Arab country to the brink of famine and devastated its health facilities. (NAN)

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