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YEMEN

Hotel housing Yemen PM in city of Aden hit by rockets

Saleh al-Obeidi, AFP | It is not yet known whether Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled al-Bahah (C), pictured here in Aden on September 28, was in the hotel at the time of the attack.
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A hotel in Yemen's second city of Aden where Prime Minister and Vice President Khaled al-Bahah was staying with members of the government has been fired upon by rocket-propelled grenades, a security source has reported.

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An unknown number of people were killed or injured in the attack, which the government said it was investigating.

"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," Government spokesman Rajeh Badi told Reuters.

A local politician reported that all the government workers have now been moved to a secret place.

The cause of the explosion remains unclear with conflicting reports. The official United Arab Emirates news agency, said the missiles were rocket-propelled grenades. But the newspaper Aden al-Ghad quoted Minister of Youth and Sport Nayef al-Bakri as saying the attacks were by suicide bombers.

The Qasr hotel has been the seat of the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi since its gradual return from exile in Saudi Arabia over recent weeks.

Aden provisional capital

Aden was declared Yemen's provisional capital after it was taken back from Shiite Houthi rebels in mid-July.

Columns of smoke were rising from the building in the city's western suburbs on Tuesday morning.

Ambulances and civil defence forces were on the scene, witnesses said, adding that the rockets had hit the entrance of the hotel.

The hotel has been guarded by troops from the United Arab Emirates, one of the members of a Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting since March to end Houthi control of Yemen and restore Hadi to power in the capital, Sanaa.

The United Arab Emirates, 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 in a Twitter message the attack on the hotel was further proof that the Houthis and Saleh were determined to destroy Yemen.

Ongoing conflict

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.

Air strikes and ground fighting have killed over 4,500 people in Yemen since Gulf Arab nations launched a military campaign in support of Hadi on March 26. 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.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
 

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