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UN envoy arrives in Aden a week after deadly airport blast

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

CAIRO (AP) — The U.N. special envoy for Yemen on Thursday toured the damage from a recent airport missile attack that killed at least 25 people and wounded 110 others.

Envoy Martin Griffiths held talks with Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, Minister of Foreign and Expatriate Affairs Ahmed Bin Mubarak and other members of Yemen’s newly-formed cabinet. Griffiths reiterated his condemnation of last week’s attack in Aden and expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

“The attack on the cabinet in Aden was devastating, not only due to the tragically heavy civilian toll, but also because it has political implications that could stir deep distrust,” Griffiths said in a statement released after his visit. “I discussed the prospects of the political process with the government and I stressed that I remain committed to support Yemen to end this conflict comprehensively and sustainably through a negotiated political settlement.”

On Dec. 30, a deadly blast shook Aden airport moments after a plane carrying members of Yemen’s cabinet arrived on a flight from the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh. No one has claimed responsibility. But the Yemeni government promptly accused Houthi rebels and their backers, the Iranian government, of being behind the airport attack and a a drone assault on the Mashiq Palace in Aden shortly after the prime minister and his Cabinet were transferred there. Saeed said the deadly blast was carried out by three precision-guided missiles.

Houthi officials have denied being behind the attack and have sought to blame unspecified groups in the Saudi-led coalition. The rebel leaders have not offered any evidence or answered requests for comment.

Upon his arrival, Griffiths was taken on a tour by Aden Gov. Ahmed Lamlas and several high-ranking security officials to observe the amount of damage inflicted on the city’s main airport, Yemen’s state-run SABA news agency reported.

Griffiths had expressed hopes that the formation of a new Yemeni cabinet could “mark the beginning of recovery after a perilous year.”

“I wish the government every success in alleviating the suffering of Yemenis and improving their daily lives and ability to meet their basic needs, as well as advancing stability and strengthening state institutions,” Mr. Griffiths said.

The Cabinet reshuffle was part of a power-sharing deal between the Saudi-backed Hadi and the secessionist Southern Transitional Council, an umbrella group of militias seeking to restore an independent southern Yemen, which existed from 1967 until unification in 1990.

The war in Yemen started in 2014 when Iran-backed Houthi rebels overran the north and the capital, Sanaa. The following year, a Saudi-led military coalition intervened to wage war on the Houthis and to restore President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government to power. Hadi has been living in Riyadh.

On Sunday, the Aden airport received its first commercial flight since the blast. Yemeni Interior Minister Ibrahim Haidan and Lamlas were at the airport for a Yemenia airline flight which arrived from Sudan’s capital Khartoum. Haidan had said the speedy reopening of the airport has underscored “the determination of the government to overcome obstacles and face the difficulties” caused by Wednesday’s attack.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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