Blasts, gunfire at Yemen’s Aden airport upon arrival of newly-formed government
Aplane carrying the newly-formed Yemeni Cabinet was welcomed with loud blasts and gunfire as it landed at the airport in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, security officials said.
The explosions were heard at Aden’s airport shortly after the plane carrying the newly-formed Yemeni government, including Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik, arrived from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, media reports quoted witnesses as saying.
The cabinet members were transferred safely to the city’s presidential palace.
There were no reports of casualties among the government delegation, however, officials at the scene reportedly said they have seen bodies lying on the tarmac and elsewhere at the airport. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media, news agency AP reported.
The source of the blast was not immediately clear.
Images doing the rounds on social media from the scene showed rubble and broken glass strewn about near the airport building and at least two lifeless bodies 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.
The ministers, headed by Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, were returning to Aden after being sworn in last week as part of a reshuffle following a deal with rival southern separatists. Yemen’s internationally recognized government has worked mostly from self-imposed exile in the Saudi capital of Riyadh during the country’s years-long civil war.
Yemen’s embattled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in exile in Saudi Arabia, announced a Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month.
The reshuffle was seen as a major step toward closing a dangerous rift between his internationally recognized government and southern separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates.
Hadi’s Saudi-backed government is at war with Iran-allied Houthi rebels, who control most of northern Yemen as well as the country’s capital, Sanaa.
Last year, the Houthis fired a missile at a military parade of newly graduated fighters of a militia loyal to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at a military base in Aden, killing dozens.