Loyalists of Yemen' s former head threaten current president' s hang on Aden

ADEN, Yemen – Forces devoted to Yemen’s former president stormed the international airport in Aden upon Thursday and sent fighter planes to bomb the palace in the southern port city where the present president has been based since fleeing from the rebel-held capital last 30 days.

Troops fended off the airport attack, the airstrikes missed the palace and President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was in the safe place, Aden’s governor Abdel-Aziz bin Habtour said.

But the violence, which he stated had left 13 people deceased, marked a major escalation in Hadi’s long-simmering conflict with former autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is allied with the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis. Hadi remains Yemen’s internationally identified president and has been a close U. S. ally in the battle against a powerful local al-Qaida affiliate.

Thursday’s attacks were directed by forces loyal to Saleh, who stepped down in 2012 when confronted with an Arab Spring uprising. The U. N. and Gulf-brokered offer saw Hadi, his vice-president, suppose office.

But Saleh had never really conceded power, plus Hadi has accused his forerunner of acting through well-placed loyalists to obstruct efforts to change the government and the security forces. The U. N. Security Council provides sanctioned Saleh and top Houthi rebel leaders.

The Houthis swept down from their northern strongholds and seized the capital Sanaa in September. They now control at least nine of Yemen’s 21 provinces. Hadi fled Sanaa final month after the Houthis put him under house arrest and he established a temporary capital in Aden, Yemen’s main economic hub and the previous capital of the once-independent south.

The assault on the airport terminal set off clashes between forces devoted to Saleh and Hadi in Aden, with explosions echoing through the largely deserted streets. The warplanes then launched three airstrikes on Hadi’s palace, located on a rocky hill overlooking the Arabian Ocean. The strikes caused no damage and Hadi was not present during the time, bin Habtour said.

It was not clear whether the planes had been flown by Saleh loyalists in the military or by Houthi rebels, who control several military plus air bases in and around Sanaa.

The attempt to capture Aden’s airport appeared to be aimed at isolating Hadi and weakening his hold on the city. It is not yet clear if he will be able to leave Aden by the end of the month to attend an Arab Summit in Egypt. Officials said the airport is operating again, yet there were no flights out Thursday evening.

Late Thursday, a statement issued by Hadi described the day’s events like a “failed military coup against constitutional legitimacy. ”

Last week, Saleh had boasted he would part Hadi. “Those fleeing to the south… will discover only one exit: the Red Ocean toward Djibouti, ” he stated in a speech to his followers.

Hadi is a southerner, and his loyalists — in the army, police and militias known as Popular Committees — dominate Aden. But two army units in the city are loyal to Saleh, similar to 3, 000 police special makes under Brig. Gen. Abdul-Hafez al-Saqqaf. Hadi tried unsuccessfully to reassign al-Saqqaf earlier this month, prompting clashes.

It was al-Saqqaf’s forces that stormed the airport terminal early Thursday, sparking battles along with pro-Hadi forces. Machine-gun fire phoned out and explosions shook the terminal building.

A minimum of two shells hit the airport’s grounds, said security and aviators officials at the scene. Ten Saleh loyalists were captured in the clashes, according to security and medical officials.

During the fighting, a lot more than 100 passengers — including an Associated Press reporter — had been rushed off a Cairo-bound airplane of the national carrier Yemenia that were waiting on the tarmac and into the fatal building.

“One day it is the Houthis, another day it is al-Qaida and now Saleh’s forces. We are getting it from all directions. We deserve some whim, ” a middle-aged man stated as he looked out at the the road from the departure lounge.

One of Hadi’s presidential planes, the Boeing 747, was damaged when Saleh loyalists sprayed it along with gunfire, the officials said.

During more than four hrs of fighting, a convoy of tanks and armoured vehicles directed by Defence Minister Maj. Gen. Mahmoud al-Subaihi, a Hadi loyalist, arrived from downtown Aden to boost the airport’s defenders. Al-Subaihi’s soldiers then ordered passengers out of the fatal and the airport building, through the thicker of the clashes.

After warding off the airport assault, their troops surrounded the adjacent foundation of the pro-Saleh police commandos plus pounded it with artillery prior to storming it in the afternoon, officials said.

After al-Saqqaf’s forces surrendered, militiamen and civilians overran the base, looting weapons plus equipment. Gunmen and civilians — including children — carried away boxes of ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades, riot police shields plus helmets, and tear gas storage containers, according to an AP reporter on the scene.

Militiamen held machine-gun posts of the defeated police, and Hadi loyalists flashed V-for-victory signs from atop tanks. The shelling and gunfire had punched holes in several buildings outside the airport terminal.

The governor stated Hadi’s forces are searching for al-Saqqaf, who also fled during the clashes. Hadi’s declaration accused him of conspiring using the Houthis to “spread chaos. ”

Security officials in the meantime said prison guards loyal in order to Saleh had opened the entrance of the central Aden prison, permitting about 300 prisoners to escape prior to Hadi’s Popular Committees sealed the facility. All officials spoke upon condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to reporters.

Armoured vehicles and tanks fanned out across the city and Open public Committee militiamen roamed the streets in pick-up trucks mounted along with heavy machine-guns. Pro-Hadi forces used around hotels and government buildings.

Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation, is effectively split in half, with the rebels in the north having disbanded parliament plus declared themselves the country’s rulers. Hadi remains popular in the formerly self-employed south, which has bristled under Sanaa’s rule since the 1994 civil war.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, with strongholds in the huge and lawless east, has used the turmoil, stepping up attacks upon Yemeni forces and the Shiite rebels.

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Associated Press writer Ahmed Al-Haj in Aden, Yemen, contributed for this report.


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ADEN, Yemen – Forces loyal to Yemen’s former president stormed the international airport in Aden on Thursday plus sent fighter planes to explosive device the palace in the southern port city where the current president continues to be based since fleeing from the rebel-held capital last month.

Troops fended off the airport strike, the airstrikes missed the palace and President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was in a safe place, Aden’s governor Abdel-Aziz bin Habtour said.

But the violence, which he said had left 13 people dead, marked a significant escalation in Hadi’s long-simmering issue with former autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is allied with the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis. Hadi remains Yemen’s internationally recognized president and it has been a close U. S. number one ally in the battle against a powerful nearby al-Qaida affiliate.

Thursday’s attacks were led by makes loyal to Saleh, who stepped down in 2012 in the face of an Arab Spring uprising. A U. In. and Gulf-brokered deal saw Hadi, his vice-president, assume office.

But Saleh had never really conceded power, and Hadi provides accused his predecessor of acting through well-placed loyalists to block efforts to reform the government as well as the security forces. The U. In. Security Council has sanctioned Saleh and top Houthi rebel commanders.

The Houthis hidden down from their northern strongholds plus seized the capital Sanaa in Sept. They now control at least nine of Yemen’s 21 provinces. Hadi fled Sanaa last month following the Houthis put him under house arrest and he established a temporary funds in Aden, Yemen’s main economic hub and the former capital of the once-independent south.

The assault on the airport set off clashes between forces loyal to Saleh and Hadi in Aden, along with explosions echoing through the largely deserted streets. The warplanes then launched three airstrikes at Hadi’s palace, located on a rocky hill looking over the Arabian Sea. The attacks caused no damage and Hadi was not present at the time, bin Habtour said.

It was unclear whether the planes were flown by Saleh loyalists in the military or even by Houthi rebels, who control several military and air angles in and around Sanaa.

The attempt to capture Aden’s airport seemed to be aimed at isolating Hadi and weakening his hold on the city. It is not however clear if he will be able to keep Aden by the end of the month to attend an Arab Summit in Egypt. Officials said the airport will be operating again, but there were simply no flights out Thursday evening.

Late Thursday, a declaration issued by Hadi described the day’s events as a “failed army coup against constitutional legitimacy. ”

Last week, Saleh got boasted he would corner Hadi. “Those fleeing to the south… will find only one exit: the Red Sea toward Djibouti, ” he said in a conversation to his supporters.

Hadi is a southerner, and his loyalists — in the military, police plus militias known as Popular Committees — dominate Aden. But two military units in the city are devoted to Saleh, as are 3, 000 police special forces under Brig. Gen. Abdul-Hafez al-Saqqaf. Hadi attempted unsuccessfully to reassign al-Saqqaf previously this month, prompting clashes.

It was al-Saqqaf’s forces that will stormed the airport early Thursday, sparking battles with pro-Hadi makes. Machine-gun fire rang out plus explosions shook the terminal constructing.

At least two covers hit the airport’s grounds, stated security and aviation officials on the scene. Ten Saleh loyalists had been captured in the clashes, according to protection and medical officials.

During the fighting, more than 100 travellers — including an Associated Push reporter — were rushed away a Cairo-bound plane of the nationwide carrier Yemenia that had been waiting on the tarmac and into the terminal building.

“One day it is the Houthis, another day it is al-Qaida and now Saleh’s forces. We are getting it from all directions. We deserve some mercy, ” the middle-aged man said as he looked out at the tarmac from the leaving lounge.

One of Hadi’s presidential planes, a Boeing 747, was damaged when Saleh loyalists sprayed it with gunfire, the officials said.

During more than four hours of fighting, a convoy of tanks plus armoured vehicles led by Defence Minister Maj. Gen. Mahmoud al-Subaihi, a Hadi loyalist, arrived from downtown Aden to reinforce the airport’s defenders. Al-Subaihi’s troops then purchased passengers out of the terminal and the airport terminal building, through the thick of the clashes.

After warding off the airport assault, his troops encircled the adjacent base of the pro-Saleh police commandos and pounded this with artillery before storming this in the afternoon, officials said.

After al-Saqqaf’s forces surrendered, militiamen and civilians overran the base, looting weapons and equipment. Gunmen and civilians — including kids — carried off boxes of ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades, riot police shields and helmets, plus tear gas canisters, according to an AP reporter at the scene.

Militiamen held machine-gun posts of the defeated police, and Hadi loyalists flashed V-for-victory signs from atop tanks. The shelling plus gunfire had punched holes in a number of buildings outside the airport.

The governor said Hadi’s makes are searching for al-Saqqaf, who fled during the clashes. Hadi’s statement accused him of conspiring with the Houthis in order to “spread chaos. ”

Security officials meanwhile said jail guards loyal to Saleh got opened the gates of the main Aden prison, allowing about 300 prisoners to escape before Hadi’s Popular Committees sealed the facility. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Armoured vehicles and tanks fanned out throughout the city and Public Committee militiamen roamed the streets in pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine-guns. Pro-Hadi forces deployed around hotels and government buildings.

Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation, is effectively split in half, with the rebels in the north getting disbanded parliament and declared themselves the country’s rulers. Hadi remains popular in the formerly independent south, which has bristled under Sanaa’s rule because the 1994 civil war.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, along with strongholds in the vast and lawless east, has exploited the uncertainty, stepping up attacks on Yemeni makes and the Shiite rebels.

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Associated Push writer Ahmed Al-Haj in Aden, Yemen, contributed to this report.

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