Yemen's Prime Minister Khaled Bahah reportedly escaped unhurt after unidentified assailants fired missiles at a hotel housing senior Yemeni government officials and a Gulf military base in a series of attacks in Aden on Tuesday, a government spokesman and residents said.
Today's attacks on multiple targets in the southern port city also killed 15 soldiers from the Saudi-led Arab coalition and its Yemeni allies, the WAM news agency of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stated on Twitter.
Initial reports, including from WAM, said the missiles fired on the Qasr hotel were rocket-propelled grenades. But the newspaper Aden al-Ghad quoted Yemen's Minister of Youth and Sport Nayef al-Bakri as saying the attacks were made by suicide bombers.
Related: Under Fire: Inside the Siege of Aden
The Qasr hotel has been the base of the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi since its gradual return from exile in Riyadh over recent weeks following the expulsion of Iranian-allied Houthi fighters in July and this is the biggest attack on the government since then.
The hotel has been guarded by troops from the UAE, one of the members of a Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting since March 26 to end Houthi control of Yemen and restore Hadi to power in the capital, Sanaa.
Air strikes and ground fighting have killed over 4,500 people in Yemen since Gulf Arab nations launched the military campaign in support of Hadi. UN-backed efforts for a compromise have come to nothing.
The Houthis have condemned the coalition for alleged war crimes. They say their seizure of Sanaa in September and their spread throughout the country was part of a revolution against a corrupt Yemeni government beholden to Gulf monarchies and what they see as the imperialist West.
Video footage purporting to show the incident showed a large sheet of flame enveloping the front of the hotel today, followed by an expanding plume of dark smoke.
"There was a fire for two hours," according to Mohammed al-Saadi, a southern politician who arrived at the hotel about two hours after it was attacked. "The soldiers at the door died in the attack, but I don't know how many there were."
Bahah and "many ministers were sleeping in the hotel," Saadi said. "They and all the government workers have now been moved to a secret place." Hadi was believed to be in Saudi Arabia.
Government spokesman Rajeh Badi told Reuters the cause of the explosions at the hotel was "rockets."
"No one from among the government was wounded, but we don't have any information on other casualties. The government is not holding anyone responsible yet and an investigation is being launched," he said.
One missile apparently was fired at the gate of the hotel, residents said. A second missile landed nearby and a third hit a compound in Aden's Buraiqah district where Gulf Arab troops are housed, they said.
The UAE, a leading supporter of Hadi's government, blamed the attack on his Iranian-allied Houthi enemies and their main local ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter that the attack on the hotel was further proof that the Houthis and Saleh were determined to destroy Yemen.
"The situation on the ground shows that they are waging a losing battle and that their role has been diminished to retreating on the ground and to try to inflict damage with mines, ambushes and rockets," he said in another message.
Aden al-Ghad reported on its website that Bahah said after the attack he was determined to stay in the city.
Hadi's government has demanded the Houthis recognize its authority and withdraw from several cities, including Sanaa, which they seized in late 2014 and early 2015.
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