At least 26 people were killed on Wednesday as explosions rocked Yemen’s Aden airport moments after a new unity government flew in, in what some officials charged was a “cowardly” attack by Houthi rebels.
Although all government ministers were reported to be unharmed, more than 50 people were wounded, medical and government sources said in the southern city, with the casualty toll feared likely to rise.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it was preparing a “mass casualty medical response plan”.
Pakistan termed the explosions “a senseless act of violence and terrorism” and urged the international community to ensure the territorial integrity of Yemen.
It was not immediately clear what had caused the explosions. Sporadic gunfire was heard soon after.
Yemen’s internationally recognised government and southern separatists formed a power-sharing cabinet on December 18, forging a joint front against the Houthi rebels who have seized Yemen’s capital Sanaa and much of the north.
Both Yemeni Information Minister Moammar Al-Eryani and Prime Minister Moeen Abdulmalik Saeed said that all the members of the government were safe.
“We assure our great people that members of the government are fine, and we assure you that the cowardly terrorist attack by the Iran-supported Houthi militia will not deter us from carrying out our patriotic duty,” Eryani said on Twitter.
Yemen’s government spokesman Rajih Badi called for an international investigation into the “terrorist” attack he said targeted “all members of the cabinet”.
“It is too soon to accuse any party before an investigation reveals who executed the attack, including (accusing) the Houthis,” he said, adding those injured included civilians, security guards and local officials.
UN envoy Martin Griffiths has condemned the attack on Twitter, calling it an “unacceptable act of violence”.
“This unacceptable act of violence is a tragic reminder of the importance of bringing Yemen urgently back on the path towards peace.” says Michael Aron – the British ambassador to Yemen.
“A despicable attempt to cause carnage and chaos and bring suffering when Yemenis had chosen to move forward together,” he said.
The cabinet members arrived in Aden days after being sworn in by Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition against the insurgents. Hadi fled to the Saudi-capital Riyadh after Sanaa fell to the Houthis in 2014.
The five years which has engulfed Yemen has claimed over Tens of thousands lives, mostly civilians and millions have been displaced triggering what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. The new government includes ministers loyal to Hadi and supporters of the secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC), as well as other parties.