Saudi Arabia launches air raids in Sanaa after deadly Aden blasts

The air raids came overnight after at least 26 people were killed and dozens wounded in an attack on Aden airport.

A view shows the Sanaa airport tower in Sanaa, Yemen [File: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

The Saudi-UAE coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen has reportedly carried out air raids in parts of the capital, Sanaa, hours after explosions struck the main airport in the southern city of Aden killing at least 26 people.

The coalition launched the air attacks overnight on Sanaa International Airport, and two Houthi sites in Rima Hamid in Sanhan district and Wadi Rjam in Bani Hashish district situated in southern Sanaa, according to Houthi-run Al Masirah TV.

No casualties have been reported so far.

“There are more than eight raids that have been carried out,” Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Al Attab, reporting from Sanaa, confirmed.

António Guterres, the UN chief, condemned the “deplorable” deadly attack on Aden airport, which came moments after a plane carrying members of a newly formed Saudi-backed unity cabinet landed.

Hours after the attack, a second explosion was heard around Aden’s Maasheq presidential palace where the cabinet members including Yemen’s Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik, as well as the Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Said al-Jaber, had been taken to safety, residents and local media said.

Two International Committee of the Red Cross staff members were also killed in the attack and one was missing, ICRC said in a statement.

Prime Minister Abdulmalik said all members of the cabinet were “fine”. He dubbed the attacks as “treacherous” and “cowardly”.

People wait to greet members a newly formed cabinet for government-held parts of Yemen upon their arrival at Aden airport, before an attack on the airport, in Aden [Fawaz Salman/Reuters]

No group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

The Houthis, who are aligned with Iran, denied they were behind the attack.

The Saudi-led coalition later said it had downed an explosive-laden Houthi drone that was targeting the presidential palace.

People react during an attack on Aden airport moments after a plane landed carrying a newly formed Saudi-backed cabinet for government-held parts of Yemen [Fawaz Salman/Reuters]

The new unity cabinet pushed by Riyadh was aimed at uniting the internationally-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi with southern separatists (Southern Transitional Council or STC), who are backed by the UAE.

The two groups are the main Yemeni factions in a southern-based, Saudi-backed alliance fighting the Houthis who control the north, including the capital, Sanaa.

The southern port city of Aden has been mired in violence because of a rift between the UAE-backed separatists and Hadi’s government.

The STC, which seeks independence for south Yemen, declared self-rule in Aden in April, triggering clashes and complicating United Nations efforts to forge a permanent ceasefire in the overall conflict.

The Saudi-led coalition announced the new power-sharing cabinet this month after more than a year of intense Saudi mediation between the government and the separatists.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies