Several explosions in Yemen’s Aden airport killed at least 22 people and injured several others just when the newly formed power-sharing government arrived from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.
Yemen Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalek said all his cabinet members were safe.
It is unclear if the explosions were caused by missiles fired on the airport.
Saudi Arabia accused Iran-backed Houthi rebels of being behind the explosion, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA). The group has not claimed responsibility.
Col. Turki Al-Malki, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, said the coalition intercepted and downed an explosives-laden Houthi drone on Wednesday that was targeting the presidential Al-Maashiq Palace in Aden, according to SPA.
Al-Malki said the drone downing “confirms the responsibility” of the Houthi militia in the airport attack.
“The attempt to assassinate the Yemeni Cabinet is an attempt to thwart the Riyadh Agreement, which Yemeni people have adopted as a path toward unification of ranks, restoration of normal life, security and stability and a roadmap to reaching a comprehensive political solution in Yemen,” Al-Malki was quoted as saying in a statement carried on SPA.
Prior to the attack, hundreds of people had gathered at the airport for the arrival of the government, which was sworn in in Saudi Arabia last week.
Footage from Saudi-owned Al Arabiya channel showed the moment of the attack: A loud boom was followed by gunshots. Smoke was seen billowing out of the terminal building.
The attack created a large hole in the ground and caused severe damage to an airport hall, according to footage from Saudi state broadcaster Al-Ekhbraiya.
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“The cowardly terrorist act that targeted Aden airport is part of the war being waged against the Yemeni state and our great people, and it will only increase our insistence on fulfilling our duties until the coup is ended, the state is restored and stability,” the Yemeni Prime Minister said.
United Nations Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths condemned the attack on Twitter. “I wish the Cabinet strength in facing the difficult tasks ahead. This unacceptable act of violence is a tragic reminder of the importance of bringing Yemen urgently back on the path towards peace,” he added.
A US State Department official said that they “are aware of the reports of the attacks in Aden and are saddened by the reports of casualties and injuries.”
“The United States supports the Yemeni Government and stands with the Yemeni people,” the official said.
Last week, Yemen’s separatist Southern Transitional Council and the existing Saudi-backed government announced a new Cabinet to end a power struggle between them.
Both groups are part a coalition backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that has been engaged in a years-long civil war with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The conflict has cost thousands of lives and has plunged the country into a humanitarian crisis.