At least six dead in Ye­men sui­cide bomb­ing

ISIS claims re­spon­si­bil­ity • UN urges Saudi coali­tion to open ports, says mil­lions at risk

Jerusalem Post - - REGIONAL NEWS -

ADEN/GENEVA (Reuters) – At least six peo­ple were killed Tues­day when a sui­cide car bomb struck a base in Ye­men’s port city of Aden, res­i­dents said, in an at­tack claimed by Is­lamic State.

Dozens of other peo­ple, in­clud­ing civil­ians, were wounded in the at­tack, which oc­curred out­side a camp used by a lo­cal se­cu­rity force or­ga­nized by the Saudi-led coali­tion fight­ing Houthi rebels.

Is­lamist ter­ror­ists have ex­ploited a civil war that be­gan in 2015 to try to ex­pand their in­flu­ence and gain a foothold in the im­pov­er­ished coun­try lo­cated in the south­ern Ara­bian Penin­sula, near the world’s top oil ex­porter, Saudi Ara­bia.

Wit­nesses de­scribed a huge ex­plo­sion that shook the al-Man­soura district in north­ern Aden, de­stroy­ing at least one build­ing and shat­ter­ing win­dows in oth­ers. A plume of smoke rose over the area.

Am­bu­lances raced to the scene to evac­u­ate the wounded. Pic­tures cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia showed sev­eral young men in mil­i­tary uni­form be­ing car­ried away in ban­dages.

Res­i­dents said two sui­cide bombers car­ried out the at­tack. But Is­lamic state, which claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, said only one bomber was in­volved and iden­ti­fied him as Abu Ha­jar al-Adani.

The group said Adani tar­geted the op­er­a­tions room of the “apos­tate Se­cu­rity Belt,” de­stroy­ing it and killing and wound­ing all those inside it.

The Se­cu­rity Belt was set up by the United Arab Emi­rates, a key mem­ber of the Saudi-led coali­tion that has been fight­ing the Iran-aligned Houthis since they ad­vanced on Aden in 2015, forc­ing Pres­i­dent Abd-Rabbu Man­sour Hadi to flee to Saudi Ara­bia.

The civil war be­tween the Iran-aligned Houthis and the in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized Hadi gov­ern­ment has killed more than 10,000 peo­ple and dis­placed more than two mil­lion. The war drags on with no sign that it will end soon.

Tues­day’s at­tack was the sec­ond of its kind in Aden this month. On Novem­ber 5, a car bomber blew him­self up at a se­cu­rity check­point, killing 15 peo­ple and wound­ing at least 20. Is­lamic State also claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for that as­sault but pro­vided no ev­i­dence it was in­volved.

Mean­while, the UN aid co­or­di­na­tor, on Tues­day, called on the Saudi-led coali­tion to open all Ye­men’s sea­ports ur­gently, say­ing mil­lions of lives were at risk.

The Saudi-led coali­tion fight­ing Ye­men’s Houthi move­ment said last week it had closed all air, land and sea­ports in Ye­men to stem what it said was the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran.

“We have some 21 mil­lion peo­ple need­ing as­sis­tance and seven mil­lion of those are in famine-like con­di­tions and rely com­pletely on food aid,” said UN hu­man­i­tar­ian co­or­di­na­tor for Ye­men Jamie McGoldrick.

“The con­tin­ued clo­sure by the Saudi-led coali­tion of crit­i­cal sea­ports and air­ports is ag­gra­vat­ing an al­ready dire hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion. I think it poses a crit­i­cal threat to the lives of mil­lions who are al­ready strug­gling to sur­vive.”

McGoldrick was speak­ing to re­porters in Geneva by phone from Amman be­cause, he said, flights into Sanaa were blocked.

“The hu­man­i­tar­ian im­pact of what is hap­pen­ing right now is unimag­in­able,” he said.

The Saudi-led coali­tion has said it will keep Hodei­dah port closed un­til a UN ver­i­fi­ca­tion pro­gram is re­viewed to en­sure no weapons reach the Houthis.

Iran de­nies arm­ing the Houthis and blames the two-and-a-half-year con­flict in Ye­men on Riyadh.

McGoldrick said the Saudi plan to sup­ply Ye­men through the Saudi port of Jizan in the North and Aden in the South was too com­pli­cated, dan­ger­ous, slow and ex­pen­sive, adding an es­ti­mated $30 per ton to ev­ery ship­ment.

“We would ask that the coali­tion opens all the sea­ports as a mat­ter of ur­gency and al­lows hu­man­i­tar­ian and other sup­plies to move, as well as the move­ment of aid work­ers,” he said.

Hu­man­i­tar­ian agen­cies had been suc­cess­ful in pre­vent­ing famine and tack­ling a cholera out­break that has sick­ened more than 900,000 peo­ple in six months and killed more than 2,200.

“This im­port block­age will re­v­erse those gains and leave mil­lions of peo­ple in a very pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion as we move ahead. The hu­man­i­tar­i­ans are just hold­ing things to­gether, wait­ing for a peace process which is very much in the dis­tance.”

The north of the coun­try, home to 78% of the pop­u­la­tion, had 20 days of diesel stocks, which are cru­cial for pump­ing wa­ter and fight­ing cholera, and 10 days of gaso­line stocks, with no prospect of re­sup­ply soon, he said.

Ye­men had com­mer­cial wheat stocks for three months for the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of 28 mil­lion, and about 120 days of rice.

The UN chil­dren’s agency UNICEF had only three weeks of vac­cine sup­plies left in Ye­men, Both it and the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion had ship­ments of es­sen­tial medicines and vac­cines blocked in Dji­bouti, McGoldrick said.

Ye­men’s na­tional air­line said on Tues­day a com­mer­cial flight had landed at Aden in­ter­na­tional air­port af­ter ac­quir­ing se­cu­rity per­mits.

(Fawaz Sal­man/Reuters)

A DAM­AGED MOSQUE stands near the site of yes­ter­day’s sui­cide car-bomb at­tack out­side a po­lice camp in Aden, Ye­men.

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