Aden (AFP) – Three senior south Yemeni officials survived a car bombing that targeted their convoy in the port city of Aden Tuesday and killed one of their guards, security sources said.
Newly appointed Aden Governor Aidarus al-Zubaidi, city police chief General Shallal Ali Shayae and the governor of neighbouring Lahj province, Naser al-Khubaji, were travelling in the convoy.
They were returning from a visit to a camp of Emirati troops taking part in the Saudi-led coalition that has been battling Iran-backed rebels in Yemen since March, the sources said.
Aidarus was appointed in December after his predecessor, Jaafar Saad, was killed in an Aden bombing claimed by the Islamic State group.
The assassination attempt comes after security forces arrested a local Al-Qaeda leader during a sweep targeting jihadists in the southern city, security officials said.
The capture of Mohammed al-Lahji, the group’s chief in the Tawahi district, along with two of his bodyguards, sparked a gunfight overnight in which a policeman was wounded, they said.
Aden, the government’s temporary capital, has seen a growing jihadist presence, with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, long active in Yemen, and IS apparently vying for influence.
The government imposed a one-month night-time curfew in Aden on Monday, a day after clashes blamed on jihadists killed at least 22 people, including 10 members of the security forces.
An official at the Aden governor’s office said that “homes in Tawahi and Mualla districts are being searched one by one to hunt down terrorists”.
Business came to a near halt in Aden as the curfew took effect, with shops closed and streets empty, residents and security officials said.
Pro-government forces trained by a Saudi-led coalition supporting President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi set up checkpoints across the city, they added.
Sunday’s clashes erupted when Hadi loyalists came up against resistance while trying to secure Aden’s port, security sources said.
Pro-Hadi forces eventually managed to take control of the facility after hours of fighting.
The extremists are occupying government buildings and are frequently seen patrolling several districts of the city.
“We will work on forcing the armed groups out of government buildings. We will cleanse all neighbourhoods from terrorists,” Shayae told reporters late Monday.
The city was rocked by months of fighting last year between pro-government forces and Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels who seized the capital in September 2014 before expanding southwards.
Loyalists have regained control of Aden and four other southern provinces since July, but the rebels still hold Sanaa and have besieged the third city of Taez for months.
Peace talks held in Switzerland last month ended without any breakthrough after a ceasefire aimed at calming tensions was widely violated.
Nearly 6,000 people have been killed since March, according to UN figures. At least 2,795 of them are civilians.