CAIRO – A rocket attack on Aden airport, controlled by the Saudi-backed Yemeni government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has left at least 22 people dead and 50 wounded, according to the government health ministry.
Saudi-owned al Arabiya TV showed video of rockets landing near the terminal as newly appointed government ministers were disembarking. Most of the casualties were reportedly inside the terminal.
Amateur video showed a crater alongside the terminal, where one of the rockets hit. Many windows and metal frames appeared to have been blown out. A van parked outside also appeared to have broken windows.
Information Minister Muammar al Eryani accused the Iranian-backed Houthi militia group, which controls the capital Sanaa, of launching the attack. The Houthis have denied responsibility.
Government spokesman Rajah Badih told Arab media that a Houthi drone was also spotted near Aden’s Maishiq palace, where government ministers were taken for safety.
Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdelmalik condemned the attack and called on Yemenis to unite against terrorism.
Abdelmalik said he wishes a speedy recovery to the victims of what he called a vile and cowardly act. He also urged Yemenis to stand together in the fight against terrorism.
The U.N. envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said in a statement that he “strongly condemn(s) the attack at Aden airport upon the Cabinet’s arrival and the killing of many innocent civilians. … This unacceptable act of violence is a tragic reminder of the importance of bringing Yemen urgently back on the path towards peace.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen said a staff member was among those killed in the blast.
Deputy Yemeni Information Minister Oussama Sharem told al Arabiya TV that the rocket attack “targeted civilians inside the building who were waiting for a flight to Cairo.” Most passengers on board the arriving Yemeni airliner carrying newly appointed government ministers appeared to be unharmed.
The new Yemeni government was formed following a power-sharing agreement in Riyadh earlier in December between supporters of President Hadi and the southern separatist movement which fought Hadi’s forces in Aden last year.