SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A large explosion struck the airport in the southern Yemeni city of Aden as a plane carrying the newly formed Cabinet landed there, security officials said.
The source of the blast was not immediately clear. There were no reports of casualties among the government delegation but officials at the scene said they have seen bodies lying on the tarmac and elsewhere at the airport.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Images shared on social media from the scene showed rubble and broken glass strewn about near the airport building and at least two lifeless bodies, one of them charred, lying on the ground. In another image, a man was trying to help another man whose clothes were torn to get up from the ground.
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) December 30, 2020
The ministers, headed by Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, were returning to Aden after being sworn in last week as part of a reshuffle following a deal with rival southern separatists. Yemen’s internationally recognized government has worked mostly from self-imposed exile in the Saudi capital of Riyadh during the country’s years-long civil war.
Yemen’s embattled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in exile in Saudi Arabia, announced a Cabinet reshuffle earlier this month.
The reshuffle was seen as a major step toward closing a dangerous rift between his internationally recognized government and southern separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates.
— Saudi Gazette (@Saudi_Gazette) December 30, 2020
Hadi’s Saudi-backed government is at war with with Iran-allied Houthi rebels, who control most of northern Yemen as well as the country’s capital, Sanaa.
Last year, the Houthis fired a missile at a military parade of newly graduated fighters of a militia loyal to the UAE at a military base in Aden, killing dozens.