Saudi-led coalition intercepts drone targeting ministers at presidential palace

Saudi-led coalition intercepts drone targeting ministers at presidential palace
3 min read
30 December, 2020
A blast was heard as a drone was downed in Aden's Al-Ma'asheeq district, where just moments earlier the newly-formed government of Yemen were transferred following the explosions at the airport.
The blasts rocked Aden city [File Photo: Getty]
Yemen's Saudi-led Coalition said it shot down a Houthi explosives-laden drone trying to target Ma'ashiq palace, where just moments earlier the newly-formed government of Yemen were transferred following the explosions at the airport.
Blasts were heard near the presidential palace in Yemen's temporary capital on Wednesday, just moments after dozens were killed in explosions that rocked Aden International Airport.

The ministers had just disembarked a Riyadh flight when the blasts were heard at the airport, shuttled off to Al-Ma'asheeq for safety but where a second explosion took place.

It is unclear whether anyone was hurt or injured in the second bomb site, though at least 26 people were confirmed dead from the attack at the airport, with dozens more injured.

The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Public Works Yasmine Al-Awadi was also reportedly killed in the airport blast, according to local media. The New Arab has been unable to verify these reports.

Local Al-Jumhouriya Hospital issued an urgent notice for blood donations as it struggled to treat victims of the blast.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Yemeni Communication Minister Naguib al-Awg, who was also on the government plane, told The Associated Press that he heard two explosions, suggesting they were drone attacks.

"It would have been a disaster if the plane was bombed," he said, insisting the plane was the target of the attack as it was supposed to land earlier.

Mohammed Al-Roubid, deputy head of Aden's health office, told the AP that at least 16 people were killed in the explosion and 60 were wounded.

Images shared on social media from the scene showed rubble and broken glass strewn about near the airport building and at least two lifeless bodies, one of them charred, lying on the ground.

In another image, a man was trying to help another man whose clothes were torn to get up from the ground.

According to one Yemeni security official, three Red Cross workers were among the wounded.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, condemned the explosion as an "unacceptable act of violence".

He said, in a tweet, that it was "a tragic reminder of the importance of bringing #Yemen urgently back on the path towards peace".

On Saturday, Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi ordered the new unity government to return to the interim capital Aden to begin its duties, following a swearing-in ceremony in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Yemen's internationally-recognised government and southern separatists formed a new cabinet on Friday, forging a joint front against Houthi rebels who have seized much of the north.

The new government was formed under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition against the Iran-backed Houthis, who took control of the capital Sanaa in 2014.

Hadi's reshuffle was seen as a major step toward closing a dangerous rift between Hadi's government and southern separatists backed by the UAE.

The Saudi-backed government is at war with with Iran-allied Houthi rebels, who control most of northern Yemen as well as the country’s capital, Sanaa.

Naming a new government was part of a power-sharing deal between the Saudi-backed Hadi and the Emirati-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council, an umbrella group of militias seeking to restore an independent southern Yemen, which existed from 1967 until unification in 1990.

The blast underscores the dangers facing Hadi's government in the port city, which was a scene of bloody fighting between forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government and the separatists.

Since the military intervention in 2015, more than 100,000 people, mainly civilians, have been killed in Yemen, where the conflict has been described as the "world's worst humanitarian crisis".

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