The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has claimed responsibility for a deadly car bombing that hit outside a mosque in Yemen’s capital, as coalition warplanes bombarded the southern city of Aden.
Saturday’s explosion in Sanaa killed at least two people and wounded 16 others, medical officials told the Agence France Presse news agency.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
It happened outside the Kobbat al-Mehdi mosque as Shia Muslims emerged from midday prayers, witnesses and security sources said.
The blast, which comes as Muslims observe the fasting month of Ramadan, damaged the entrance of the mosque and shattered the windows of a nearby house.
SITE Intelligence Group said ISIL claimed the attack, the latest in a series that has targeted Sanaa, which the Houthi rebels seized in September.
Since then, the Houthis have expanded their control to other parts of Sunni-majority Yemen, including Aden in the south, forcing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government to flee to Saudi Arabia.
Saturday’s car attack came just hours after coalition warplanes launched 15 strikes against Houthi targets in the port city of Aden.
A pro-government military source said the dawn strikes pounded the northern, eastern and western approaches to Aden, to isolate the Houthis and support forces loyal to Hadi.
In response, rebels shelled several neighbourhoods of Aden, killing four people and wounding several others, the military source said, a toll confirmed by hospital officials.
Meanwhile, two coalition air raids hit the al-Dulaimi airbase near Sanaa’s international airport, while several others targeted Saada in northern Yemen and areas near the border with Saudi Arabia, witnesses and the Houthis told Reuters.
In Marib, a region east of Sanaa contested in fighting for the past three months, 15 Houthis and four tribal fighters were killed in clashes on Saturday morning.
Collapse of talks
The violence came a day after UN’s special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced in Geneva that talks between the warring sides ended without agreement.
|Deep divisions in Yemen stall talks
“I won’t beat around the bush. There was no kind of agreement reached,” the Mauritanian diplomat told reporters.
The government is demanding in line with a UN Security Council resolution that the rebels withdraw from the territory they control, but the Houthis have called for an unconditional halt to the air strikes before they consider a pause in fighting.
The rebels are backed by fighters loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced to step down after a year of bloody protests calling for an end to his three decades of iron-fisted rule.
More than 2,600 have been killed in the fighting which has also left 80 percent of the population – 20 million people – in need of urgent humanitarian aid, according to UN estimates.
On Friday, the UN relief agency called for $1.6bn in funding in order to rescue Yemen from the food crisis brought about by the conflict.