Two senior ministers of the internationally recognized government of Yemen were targeted by a car bomb attack in the port city of Aden on Sunday. The ministers escaped, but at least seven people traveling in their convoy were killed, and eleven others were seriously injured.
The roadside bomb was powerful enough to damage buildings around the convoy’s route. Eyewitnesses reported several cars were destroyed in the explosion, with several burned corpses recovered from the wreckage.
“We heard a huge blast that shattered glass and inflicted damages in the surrounding buildings. We saw body parts and charred bodies in the street,” one witness said.
A source in Aden told the Canberra Times on Monday the casualties included “the governor’s press secretary and his photographer, the head of his security detail and a fourth companion as well as a civilian bystander.”
The targets of the attack were Agriculture Minister Salem al-Socotrai and Ahmed Lamlas, the governor of Aden. Socotrai was traveling in Lamlas’ convoy when the bomb went off. Some of the dead and injured were members of the ministers’ security details, but at least three of the dead were reportedly civilians.
Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed said on Sunday the blast would be investigated as a “terrorist attack.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but there are numerous suspects. Al-Qaeda and ISIS are both active in Yemen, and the Iran-backed Houthi insurgency is currently conducting a major military offensive to capture more territory. Saeed’s government is based in Yemen because the Houthis overthrew the elected government and captured the national capital of Sanaa in 2014.
Lamlas and Socotrai are both members of the Southern Transitional Council, a separatist group that reconciled with the Aden-based government in July 2020 after briefly declaring self-rule. The STC and Saeed’s government are now technically allies against the Houthis, with STC members holding several positions in Saeed’s cabinet.
On Monday, Yemeni media reported over 400 Houthi fighters were killed in four days of airstrikes on the central city of Marib by the Saudi-led coalition supporting the Aden government.
One hundred and eighteen airstrikes were conducted over 96 hours for “the protection of civilians” trapped in the city by a Houthi siege, according to Saudi state media.
At least 100 Houthis were killed fighting government troops on the outskirts of Marib over the weekend, according to government military sources.
“The Houthi attack began at nearly 8 p.m. on Friday and ended on Saturday afternoon. They used different kinds of weapons and dispatched waves of fighters,” a military spokesman said.