Yemen govt vows to bring stability after deadly attack
AFP, , Thursday 31 Dec 2020
At least 26 people, including three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross and a journalist, were killed and scores wounded in the explosions as ministers disembarked from an aircraft in the southern city


Yemen's new power-sharing government vowed on Thursday to bring stability to the war-torn country, a day after deadly blasts rocked Aden airport in an attack targeting cabinet members.

At least 26 people, including three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross and a journalist, were killed and scores wounded in the explosions as ministers disembarked from an aircraft in the southern city.

All cabinet members were reported to be unharmed in what some ministers charged was an attack by the north Yemen-based Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

AFP video footage shows what appears to be a missile strike followed by a ball of intense flames, in part of the airport which moments before had been packed with crowds.

But it is still not fully clear what caused the explosions.

Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Mubarak told AFP on Thursday that the new unity government was up to tackling the challenges facing a country that has long been the Arab Peninsula's most impoverished nation.

"The government is determined to fulfil its duty and work to restore stability in Yemen," he said.

"This terrorist attack will not deter it from that."

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced in Yemen's grinding five-year war, which has triggered what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian disaster.

The cabinet ministers had arrived in Aden days after being sworn in by Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition against the Houthi insurgents.

Hadi fled to Riyadh after Yemen's capital Sanaa fell to the Houthis in 2014.

The new government includes ministers loyal to Hadi and supporters of the secessionist Southern Transitional Council, as well as other parties.

While all oppose the Houthi rebels, they are deeply divided, and secessionists and forces loyal to the central government have sporadically clashed in and around Aden.

Ministers blame Houthis


Saudi Arabia has been encouraging the unity government to quell the "war within a civil war" and to bolster the coalition against the Houthi insurgents, which control Sanaa and much of the north.

Some ministers, including Mubarak, blamed the Houthi insurgents for the attack -- but other government officials remained more circumspect.

"Information and preliminary investigations show that the Houthi militia was behind this ugly terrorist attack," Mubarak told AFP, adding that missiles were launched from rebel-held areas.

Maged Al-Madhaji of the Sanaa Centre for Strategic Studies said Wednesday's incident was the most significant in the Yemen war.

"The explosions could have destroyed everything. They could have wiped out the entire legitimate government completely," he told AFP.

'Painful and scary day'


Yemenis had been hoping the new government would immediately start work to improve the situation for millions on the brink of famine, but the attack was a harsh reminder that the country is far from escaping the grip of war.

"It was a painful and scary day," Noor, a 28-year-old Aden resident, told AFP.

"We were optimistic about the return of a government not because they are patriotic men, but because it meant the possible return of basic services and an end to crises."

"Their ineptitude in matters of security was the reason for crowds gathering (in front of the plane), along with announcing their time of arrival, this all led to this disaster."

For Bassem al-Qadi, who lost his cousin in the explosions, the government is the "last thread of hope" for "exhausted" Yemenis.

"People want to live, and they have become tired of death, destruction and terror," he said.

International reactions condemning the incident continued to pour in on Thursday.

Katharina Ritz, ICRC's head of delegation in Yemen, said the Red Cross was mourning the loss of the three colleagues.

"The deaths and injuries caused by the blast are a heavy blow for many families," she said in a statement. "Yemen has endured many difficult days; we hope for a brighter one tomorrow."

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