- A huge explosion hit an airport in Aden, Yemen, minutes after a convoy carrying Yemen’s newly-sworn in cabinet government landed from Riyadh.
- No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but Yemen’s new government and the Saudi-led coaltion have charged Houthi-rebels with orchestrating the attack.
- According to the Associated Press, at least 25 people were killed and 110 were wounded in the blast.
- Many news channels captured the tragic moment live while reporting on the potential for a breakthrough in Yemen’s decade long civil war.
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A massive explosion rocked the airport in Aden, Yemen, early Wednesday, minutes after a plane landed from Saudi Arabia carrying members of Yemen’s newly formed cabinet.
According to the Associated Press, at least 25 people were killed and 110 were wounded in the blast.
In scenes broadcast live on several news channels, after the first explosion, civilians and security officers ran away as cameras panned out to the blast, while the politicians scurried away to safety. Images and videos from the blast show chaotic scenes in the aftermath, as well as a smoke and debris-filled airport with bodies strewn around inside terminals.
—Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) December 30, 2020
No government officials on the plane were hurt by the blast, per the AP report.
Yemeni Communication Minister Naguib al-Awg, a passenger on the plane, told the AP that the attacks may have been drone attacks, stating there were multiple.
“It would have been a disaster if the plane was bombed,” al-Awg said, claiming that the plane was the target and was scheduled to land earlier.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Yemen’s government has charged that Iran-backed Houthi rebels targeted the airport with ballistic missiles. Officials reported a second explosion near the presidential palace, where the new cabinet members were transferred after the first attack.
The announcement and introduction of a revitalized cabinet in Yemen potentially offered a new chance for collaboration between Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates.
Throughout the course of the decade-long humanitarian crisis and war, which has gripped Yemen, Hadi’s government has at times sided with UAE-backed separatists and been supported by a US and Saudi-led military campaign, which has targeted Houthi rebels, who control swaths of Northern Yemen as well as the capital Sanaa. At least 233,000 Yemenis have been killed throughout the war from indirect and direct causes, according to the UN.
Several high-ranking Yemeni officials responded to the attack, as did humanitarian organizations on the ground in Aden, a highly disputed port city.
Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed tweeted that he and his cabinet were unharmed, calling the attacks a “cowardly terrorist act.”
Health Minister Qasem Buhaibuh tweeted that at least 25 people were killed and 110 others were wounded, adding that many were seriously wounded.
Several humanitarian workers and journalists were killed in the blast.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said that three workers were killed in the Aden blast. “This is a tragic day for the ICRC and for the people of Yemen,” said Dominik Stillhart, ICRC’s director of operations.
Yemeni Belqees TV, a Yemeni news channel, said that reporter Adeeb al-Ganabi was killed in the airport blast, and Yemeni Information Minister Moammer al-Iryani added that at least 10 other journalists reporting on the historic arrival were wounded.
The Yemeni prime minister also tweeted a video after the attack, and said his government was in Aden “to stay.”
After Houthi rebels took over Sanaa in 2014, Aden has largely been Hadi’s base. The plane carrying Yemen’s new cabinet was returning from Riyadh, where they were sworn in last week after striking a deal with the separatists.
Yemen’s internationally recognized government has largely operated from Riyadh during the war, where cabinet members have been self-exiled.
The UN Secretary-General and several embassies issued statements condemning the attack as well.