Blast, gunfire in Yemen after plane carrying new government lands, 16 killed

Loud blasts and gunfire were heard at the airport shortly after the plane arrived, witnesses said.

At least 16 people were killed and dozens others injured in an attack on Aden airport in Yemen on Wednesday, shortly after a plane carrying a newly formed Yemeni Cabinet arrived from Saudi Arabia. No one on the government plane was hurt.

Mohammed al-Roubid, deputy head of Aden’s health office, told The Associated Press that along with the 16 killed, at least 60 people were wounded in the explosion. The source of the blast remains unknown and no group immediately claimed an attack on the airport in the southern city.

Loud blasts and gunfire were heard at the airport shortly after the plane arrived, witnesses said.

The cabinet members including Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik, as well as Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Said al-Jaber, were transferred safely to the city’s presidential palace, the witnesses and Saudi media said.

A local security source said three mortar shells landed on the airport’s hall.

The newly formed cabinet unites the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi with southern separatists. The two groups are the main Yemeni factions in a southern-based, Saudi-backed alliance, fighting against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement that controls the north.

Saudi state television Ekhbaria showed destroyed vehicles and smashed glass. Plumes of white smoke rose from the scene.

The southern port city of Aden has been mired in violence because of a rift between the separatists and Hadi’s government. The separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), which seeks independence for south Yemen, declared self rule in Aden earlier this year, triggering violent clashes and complicating U.N. efforts to forge a permanent ceasefire in the overall conflict.

The Saudi-led coalition announced earlier this month the new power-sharing cabinet that would include the separatists.

The cabinet landed from Riyadh where both parties negotiated for more than a year with Saudi mediation.