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Islamic State Claims Car Bomb Attack That Killed Governor of Aden in Yemen

A suicide bomber reportedly rammed his vehicle into a convoy, killing the governor of the key Yemeni port city and at least six members of his entourage.

by Reuters News Agency
Dec 6 2015, 3:05pm

Photo via EPA

The governor of Aden was killed in a car bomb attack on Sunday claimed by Islamic State (IS) in Yemen's southern port city, where President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has returned to oversee a war against the Iran-allied Houthis group.

A local official and residents said at least six members of General Jaafar Mohammed Saad's entourage also died in the attack, which targeted the governor as he was headed to work. Several other people were wounded.

IS, in a statement posted on a messaging service it uses, said it detonated a car loaded with explosives aimed at Saad's convoy in Aden's Tawahi district and promised more operations against "the heads of apostasy in Yemen." A local official and residents said earlier on Sunday a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into the governor's car.

The group's local branch has stepped up operations since the outbreak of civil war in Yemen, emerging as a forceful rival to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the main militant group in the country in recent years.

Related: The Rise of the Islamic State in Yemen

It has launched attacks on security bases and on mosques run by Houthi forces who control the capital, Sanaa. The Houthis, who follow the Zaydi branch of Shiite Islam, have been fighting a coalition of mainly Gulf Arab forces, which began air strikes against them in March.

The attack came one day after assailants killed a senior army officer and a judge who had presided over the trial of militants suspected in the bombing of the US warship USS Cole in Aden in 2000, in two separate attacks in the city.

Watch the VICE News documentary The Siege Of Aden:

In October, four suicide bombers detonated car bombs at a temporary Yemeni government headquarters and two Arab coalition outposts, killing more than a dozen people.

"Foot-dragging in implementing security measures paves the way for hardliners to carry out such attacks," said Ashraf Ali Mahmoud, a local activist.

Sunday's explosion could be heard about seven miles away, residents said. Photos posted by local news websites showed a car in flames with a plume of smoke rising from it.

Related: 'All We Could Find Were Body Parts': America's Role in Yemen's Civilian Carnage

The victims were taken to the Jumhouriya Hospital, the main state medical facility in Aden which Saad had re-opened in a ceremony two days earlier.

Security had been a main concern for Hadi and his Arab allies since he returned to Aden last month to oversee an offensive by his forces and Arab allies to drive the Houthis from the strategic city of Taiz.

In October, the government of Prime Minister Khaled Bahah was forced to relocate to Saudi Arabia after four coordinated suicide bombings by IS killed at least 15 people, including four Emirati soldiers.

Saad had been a general in the army of the former southern Yemen before the Marxist state merged with northern Yemen in 1990. He was appointed governor in October.

Local officials said Saad, who fought in the 1994 civil war for southern forces against the northerners, had lived in exile in Egypt and Britain before he returned earlier this year at Hadi's request.

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