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Governor of Yemen’s Aden killed in suicide car bombing, says official

Saleh al-Obeidi, AFP file picture | Governor of Aden Jaafar Mohammed Saad at an event in the southern city of Aden on October 24, 2015

The governor of Yemen’s Aden province Jaafar Mohammed Saad was killed Sunday when his convoy was targeted in a car bomb attack in the west of the city, an official said. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack.

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In a statement carried by the official Saba news agency, the head of security in Aden General Mohamed Mussad confirmed Saad's death and said six of his guards were also killed.

Residents said the explosion was so powerful it could be heard about 10 kilometres away.

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.

In a statement posted on a messaging service, the IS group said it had detonated an explosives-laden car when Saad’s convoy passed in a western district of Aden.

The jihadist 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.

It has launched spectacular attacks on security bases and on mosques run by Houthi forces who control the capital, Sanaa. The Houthis, who follow the Zaydi branch of Shiiite 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.

Security has been a main concern for President Abd Rabbu Mansour 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 Islamic state killed at least 15 people, including four Emirati soldiers.

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

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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