At least six dead in Yemen suicide bombing
ISIS claims responsibility • UN urges Saudi coalition to open ports, says millions at risk
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.
A DAMAGED MOSQUE stands near the site of yesterday’s suicide car-bomb attack outside a police camp in Aden, Yemen.