IS claims deadly attack on Aden governor, 6 guards in Yemen

(From agencies)

Yemeni security officials on Sunday said a huge explosion has killed the governor of Aden and six of his bodyguards, AP reports.

Islamic State (IS), which has a growing presence in Yemen since its civil war broke out, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Jaafar Saad's convoy was targeted while he was driving in Al-Tawahi district of Aden early Sunday

Maj Gen Jaafar Mohammed Saad’s convoy was targeted while he was driving early Sunday

Gov. Jaafar Mohamed Saad was traveling to his office in a convoy on Sunday morning when the explosion took place in the Rimbaud area of the southern port city, officials said.

Authorities are still investigating the exact cause of the explosion.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media.

On Saturday, masked gunmen have killed a prominent judge who was known for sentencing Al-Qaeda militants to prison in Aden.

Major General Jafar Mohammed Saad

Maj Gen Jaafar Mohammed Saad

Police said gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on Judge Mohsen Alwan’s vehicle in Aden’s Mansoura neighborhood, killing him and three others.

No one immediately claimed the attack, but officials suspect Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch was behind it. Al-Qaeda militants have previously used motorcycles in their assassinations.

Saad, recently appointed as governor, was close to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who returned to Aden last month after several months in exile in Riyadh.

Saad’s death comes a day after the country’s UN envoy held talks with Hadi in Aden aimed at starting peace talks between the warring sides.

Hisham al-Omeisy, a Yemeni political analyst, said the assassination of the governor was only the latest in a series of political killings in Aden in recent months.

“Major General Jaafar Mohammed Saad was … under a lot of pressure,” Omeisy said, speaking to Al Jazeera from Sanaa.

“He was blocked from getting to his office several times in the past weeks and his movement in the city was very restricted. To a lot of people in Aden, this attack does not come as much of a surprise,” Omeisy added.

“There is a security vacuum in Aden. Al-Qaeda and other militias are running freely,” he said. “It’s likely to worsen, especially now that al-Qaeda has taken over two cities just a few kilometers away from Aden. So they’ll be moving into Aden and I think you’ll see street wars very soon.”

Pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition drove Shiite Houthi rebels out of Aden earlier this year. But a local al-Qaeda affiliate has exploited the chaos of Yemen’s conflict to seize territory in the country’s south and east, and has a growing presence in Aden.

Al-Qaeda threatened on Friday to kill the leader of a pro-government force in southern Yemen, putting a bounty on his head, as it sought to impose itself on the war-torn country, yemenonline reports.

Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, in a statement circulated during main weekly prayers in mosques, vowed to kill Abdellatif al-Sayed, the Abyan provincial commander of the Popular Resistance, an alliance of Sunni Islamists, tribesmen, loyalist soldiers and southern secessionists.

Accusing him of having “stabbed the mujahedeen in the back”, it placed a bounty of seven million Yemeni riyals ($32,500) on his head and warned that his accomplices would be regarded as “legitimate targets”.

On Wednesday, the militants briefly seized control of the town of Jaar in Abyan province, killing 11 members of the Popular Resistance, including its deputy leader, Ali al-Sayed.

Control of Jaar could potentially open up a supply route between al-Qaeda’s stronghold of Mukalla, in Hadramawt province, and Yemen’s second city Aden, as it seeks to take advantage of fighting between loyalist and rebel forces across the country.

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