Subdivision Tips, South Australia (C: +61431138537), https://www.facebook.com/RealEstateSA5000/

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Suicide bombers kill 137 in Yemen mosque attacks, Fighting between Yemeni president supporters and opponents halts Aden flights

Allies of Yemen Houthis seize Aden airport, close in on president Wed, Mar 25 17:56 PM EDT image 1 of 3 By Sami Aboudi ADEN (Reuters) - Houthi militia forces and allied army units seized Aden airport and a nearby air base on Wednesday, tightening their grip on the outskirts of the southern Yemeni city after President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled his residence for a safer location. The United States said Hadi, holed up in Aden since fleeing the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa last month, was no longer at the compound he has been using as a base. It offered no other details on his movements. "We were in touch with him earlier today," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a briefing in Washington. "He is no longer at his residence. I'm not in position to confirm any additional details from here about his location." Residents later said looters had entered the residence hours after Hadi vacated it in mid-afternoon for an unknown location. Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen and Hadi's aides said Hadi remained in Aden, in a safe place, without elaborating. Local officials said troops loyal to Yemen's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a powerful ally of the Houthis, had captured Aden airport in late afternoon but that clashes with Hadi supporters were continuing in the vicinity. The airport was closed and all flights were canceled. Earlier the Houthis and their allies took al-Anad air base 60 km (37 miles) north of the city before continuing their southward advance. Yemen's slide toward civil war has made the country a crucial front in mostly Sunni Saudi Arabia's rivalry with Shi'ite Iran, which Riyadh accuses of stirring up sectarian strife through its support for the Houthis. Sunni Arab monarchies around the region have condemned the Shi'ite Houthi takeover as a coup and have mooted a military intervention in favor of Hadi in recent days. U.S. officials say Saudi Arabia is moving heavy military equipment including artillery to areas near its border with Yemen, raising the risk that the Middle East’s top oil power will be drawn into the worsening conflict. Saudi sources said the build-up, which also included tanks, was purely defensive. Soldiers at Aden's Jabal al-Hadeed barracks fired into the air to prevent residents from entering and arming themselves, witnesses said, suggesting that Hadi's control over the city was fraying. Five people were killed and 12 wounded in shooting at the barracks, medical sources said without elaborating. Earlier, unidentified warplanes fired missiles at the Aden neighborhood where Hadi's compound is located, residents said. Anti-aircraft batteries opened fire on the planes. While the battle for Aden is publicly being waged by the Houthi movement, many there believe that the real instigator of the campaign is former president Saleh, a fierce critic of Hadi. Saleh was the force behind Aden's previous humiliation in 1994, when as president he crushed a southern secessionist uprising in a short war. Unlike other regional leaders deposed in the Arab Spring, Saleh was allowed to remain in the country. HOUTHI ADVANCE Army loyalists close to Saleh on Wednesday warned against foreign interference, saying on his party website that Yemen would confront such a move "with all its strength". Diplomats say they suspect the Houthis want to take Aden before an Arab summit this weekend, to preempt an expected attempt by Hadi ally Saudi Arabia to rally Arab support at the gathering for military intervention in Yemen. The Arab League will discuss on Thursday a proposal by Yemen's foreign minister, who called on Arab states to intervene militarily to halt the Houthi advance, the regional body's deputy secretary general said. The Houthi advance was taking its toll. The bodies of fighters from both sides lay on the streets of the outskirts of Houta, capital of Lahej province north of Aden, residents said. In Houta, storefronts were shuttered and residents reported hearing bursts of machine gun fire and saw the bodies of fighters from both sides lying in the streets. Witnesses said Houthi fighters and allied soldiers largely bypassed the city center and traveled by dirt roads to the southern suburbs facing Aden. Heavy traffic clogged Aden as parents brought schoolchildren home and public sector employees obeyed orders to leave work. Witnesses said pro-Hadi militiamen and tribal gunmen were out in force throughout the city. "The war is imminent and there is no escape from it," said 21-year-old Mohammed Ahmed, standing outside a security compound in Aden's Khor Maksar district, where hundreds of young men have been signing up to fight the advancing Shi'ite fighters. "And we are ready for it. Houthi militants took control of Sanaa last September and seized the central city of Taiz at the weekend as they moved closer to Aden. Houthi leaders have said their advance is a revolution against Hadi and his corrupt government. Iran has blessed their rise as part of an "Islamic awakening" in the region. (Reporting By Mohammed Mukhashaf, Sami Aboudi, Mohammed Ghobari and Noah Browning,; Editing by William Maclean, Angus MacSwan and Gareth Jones) =============== Report: Iran-backed rebels in Yemen loot secret files about US spy operations, US officials tell @latimes Read more on latimes.com  Yemen crisis  2h More: US State Department says unable to confirm additional details on Yemeni President Hadi's location; says they have been in touch with him over last several days - @NBCNews End of alert  Yemen crisis  3h Witnesses: Residents are looting Yemeni presidential compound in Aden, which was vacated earlier by President Hadi - @Reuters Read more on yahoo.com  Yemen crisis  3h US State Department: Yemeni President Hadi left residence voluntarily - @Reuters End of alert  Yemen crisis  4h Editor's note: Sources in Saudi Arabia tell Reuters that there are no plans for military intervention in the Yemen crisis as Shiite rebels known as Houthis and allies advance on Aden. However, Saudi Arabia had previously warned that "if the Houthi coup does not end peacefully, we will take the necessary measures for this crisis to protect the region," The Associated Press reports. There are reports Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has fled the country, but he is scheduled to attend an Arab summit in Egypt this weekend, where allies are set to discuss possible intervention against Houthis, the AP reports. - Stephanie Read more on bigstory.ap.org  Yemen crisis  5h Yemeni foreign minister denies reports President Hadi has fled Aden - @FrankRGardner see original on twitter.com  Yemen crisis  5h Yemen's Aden airport captured by troops loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, local officials say - @Reuters End of alert  Yemen crisis  5h White House calls on Houthi militia forces to stop fomenting instability in Yemen - @Reuters End of alert  Yemen crisis  6h Updated: Officials say Yemen's embattled president has left country on a boat from Aden; Yemen's foreign minister denies report in interview - @AP, @FrankRGardner End of alert  Yemen crisis  6h Yemeni officials: Forces allied with Shiite rebels have taken over airport in the city of Aden - @AP End of alert  Yemen crisis  7h Saudi Arabia's military buildup near its southern border with Yemen is purely defensive, 2 Saudi sources say - @Reuters End of alert  Yemen crisis  9h Aden airport in Yemen closed, all flights cancelled due to security concerns, guards say - @Reuters End of alert  Yemen crisis  9h Arab League deputy secretary general says body will discuss Yemen intervention plan tomorrow at foreign minister level - @Reuters End of alert  Yemen crisis  10h Yemen's foreign minister calls for Arab military intervention against advancing Shiite rebels - @AP End of alert Mar 25, 2015, 11:44 AM GMT 10h Warplanes flying over Aden fire missiles at district housing Yemen president's compound, residents say - @Reuters End of alert Alert my friends  Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi   Aden, `Adan, YE   war & conflict   Yemen   Yemen crisis   Yemen  11h Authorities say Shiite rebels have arrested Yemen's defense minister - @AP End of alert  Aden, `Adan, YE  11h Shiite rebels offer bounty for capture of embattled president as they near his last refuge - @AP End of alert  Aden, `Adan, YE  12h Officials say Yemen's embattled president has fled Aden home as Shiite rebels near - @AP End of alert  Aden, `Adan, YE  13h Public sector workers in Yemen's Aden told to go home, residents arm themselves, witnesses say - @Reuters End of alert  Al Anad, Lahij, YE  14h Officials loyal to Yemen's President Hadi had no immediate comment on claims rebels have 'secured' the al-Annad air base - @AP End of alert  Al Anad, Lahij, YE  14h Shiite rebel TV station says its fighters seize Yemen air base where US advised al-Qaida fight - @AP End of alert  Yemen  15h Army officers loyal to Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh say Yemen armed forces will confront any foreign intervention - @Reuters End of alert  Yemen  1d Yemen asks UN Security Council to authorize military action by 'willing countries' to deter Houthi militia aggression - @Reuters End of alert  Ad Dali, YE  1d Hadi loyalists reverse Houthi gains in 2 Yemen towns, residents say - @Reuters Read more on dailymail.co.uk  Yemen  1d Houthi official says al-Qaida exploiting southern separatism to stoke struggle between Yemen's regions - @Reuters End of alert  Fight against Islamic State militants  1d Houthi official says Houthis not targeting Aden, but defending Yemen against Islamist militants - @Reuters Yemen Huthi advance raises fears over key waterway . AFP By Mohamed Hasni 18 hours Yemeni supporters of the Shiite Huthi movement shout slogans during a rally in Sanaa against a US and Saudi intervention in Yemen, on March 6, 2015 (AFP Photo/Mohammed Huwais) . Aden (AFP) - As they advance south, Yemen's Iran-linked Huthi militiamen are moving within striking distance of the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait, a vital corridor through which much of the world's maritime trade passes. Only about 30 kilometres (20 miles) across at its narrowest point, the strait separates the Arabian Peninsula from east Africa and links the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden. Nearly 40 percent of global maritime trade is estimated to pass through the strait, much of it on its way to and from the Suez Canal. As Yemen's Shiite Huthi militiamen have moved south after seizing the capital Sanaa last year, concern has been growing about their intentions for Bab al-Mandab. The militia on Sunday took control of the airport in the key central city of Taez, tightening the noose on President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in his refuge in the southern city of Aden only about 180 kilometres (110 miles) away. Hadi fled to Aden after escaping house arrest in Sanaa last month, and the country has increasingly been divided between the Huthi-controlled north and presidential loyalists in the south. Security sources say Huthi forces have been dispatched from Taez to the port of Mocha, some 80 kilometres to the west. From Mocha, a coastal road of around 100 kilometres leads to Bab al-Mandab. If the militia does make a move to take control the strait, experts say, Yemen's crisis could quickly become a global problem. The Huthis have been closely linked with Iran, which already overlooks another maritime chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz linking the Gulf with the Arabian Sea. If the militia takes control of Bab al-Mandab, "Iran would be the main winner," said Bassem al-Hakimi, a Yemeni political expert. - 38% of maritime trade - He said such a move would give Tehran an additional "card to play in the negotiations over its nuclear programme" with world powers. There is no doubt that the seizure of coastal areas on the strait would raise international concern. Both the United States and France maintain a military presence on the other side of the strait in Djibouti, and for Egypt the strait is of crucial importance. Egypt's ambassador to Yemen, Youssef al-Sharqawi, warned recently that threats to Bab al-Mandab would be a "red line" for Cairo. "More than 38 percent of global maritime trade passes through the strait," he told reporters in Aden. "The national security of Yemen is closely linked to the security of the Red Sea, the Gulf and Bab al-Mandab." Israel has also raised concerns, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning of an Iranian threat to the strait in a speech to the US Congress earlier this month. "Backed by Iran, Huthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second chokepoint on the world's oil supply," he said. But some experts are sceptical about any danger to the strait posed by the Huthi advance. "The whole thing is a total red herring," said Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Iran and associate fellow at the Chatham House think tank. Dalton said there was no reason to believe that Tehran -- whose links with the Huthis he said have been exaggerated -- would want to complicate shipping through the strait. "The Iranians are pro-free passage and they play by the rules. They want to be respected so it is unlikely that either Iran or the Huthi movement would seek to disrupt shipping there," he added. ============= Houthis seize strategic Yemeni city, escalating power struggle Sun, Mar 22 17:34 PM EDT image 1 of 7 By Mohammed Mukhashef ADEN (Reuters) - Houthi fighters opposed to Yemen's president took over the central city of Taiz in an escalation of a power struggle diplomats say risks drawing in neighboring oil giant Saudi Arabia and its main regional rival Iran. Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, head of the powerful Shi'ite Muslim group, vowed to pursue Sunni militants behind suicide attacks on Houthi supporters and said the poor Arabian peninsula country was in danger of descending into Libya-style turmoil. In a live televised speech, Houthi said his decision to mobilize fighters amid accelerating violence in recent days was aimed at Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for bombings that killed more than 130 in the capital, Sanaa, on Friday, and al Qaeda. Conflict has been spreading across Yemen since last year when the Houthis seized Sanaa and effectively removed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who now seeks a comeback from his base in Aden. Residents of Taiz, on a main road from Sanaa to the country's second city, Aden, said Houthi militias took over the city's military airport without a struggle late on Saturday. Witnesses in the central province of Ibb reported seeing dozens of tanks and military vehicles headed southward from Houthi-controlled areas toward Taiz, while activists in the city said Houthi gunmen shot into the air to disperse protests by residents demonstrating against their presence. The advance of the Iranian-backed group has angered Sunni Gulf Arab states led by Saudi Arabia. The Houthi expansion into mostly Sunni areas in the center and west has led to months of clashes with local tribes and al Qaeda, raising fears of civil war. INTERVENTION The U.N. mediator on Yemen said on Sunday that recent events "seem to be leading Yemen further away from a peaceful settlement and towards the edge of civil war." Saying it was illusory to think Houthi militia could take over all of Yemen or that Hadi could assemble enough troops to take back the country, mediator Jamal Benomar told the Security Council: "Any side that would want to push the country in either direction would be inviting a protracted conflict in the vein of an Iraq-Libya-Syria combined scenario." The Security Council condemned the takeover of much of Yemen and its institutions by the Houthis and warned of "further measures" if hostilities did not end. Iran called for dialogue, but suggested Hadi should leave to spare the country further bloodshed. "The expectation is that President ... Hadi will resign rather than repeat mistakes, to play a constructive role in preventing the breakup of Yemen and the transformation of Aden into a terrorist haven," said Iran's deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, according to state news agency IRNA. But Gulf Arab leaders and security officials said on Saturday Hadi was Yemen's legitimate ruler and they were ready to make "all efforts" to defend the country's security. "Yemen is sliding into a dark tunnel, which would have serious consequences not only on Yemen but on security and stability in the region," the officials, who included Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, said. "The security of Yemen and of the GCC countries is an indivisible whole," it added. ESCALATING VIOLENCE On Sunday, anti-aircraft guns opened fire at an unidentified plane flying over Hadi's compound in Aden, witnesses said, in the third incident of its kind since last Thursday. U.S. officials said Washington had evacuated its remaining personnel from Yemen, including about 100 special operations forces, because of worsening security, marking a setback in U.S. efforts against a powerful al Qaeda branch. The Houthis are allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, still influential in the military despite having given up power in 2011 after mass protests against his rule. The Yemeni army has varied loyalties, with most units being controlled by the Houthis or Saleh, while some are loyal to Hadi. In his speech, Houthi criticized the U.N. Security Council, saying it was led by countries plotting "evil" against others. He also accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar - two among several Gulf Arab states opposed to the Houthis' rise to power - of fomenting "destruction" inside and outside the region. (Additional reporting by Sami Aboudi, Noah Browning, Mohammed Ghobari, Angus McDowall and Sam Wilkin, and Michelle Nichols at United Nations; Writing by William Maclean,; Editing by) ============================================ Houthis take parts of Yemeni city, Hadi sees 'coup' Sun, Mar 22 06:22 AM EDT By Mohammed Mukhashef ADEN (Reuters) - Houthi fighters opposed to Yemen's president seized parts of the country's third largest city of Taiz amid growing concern about a conflict diplomats say risks drawing in neighboring oil giant Saudi Arabia and its main regional rival Iran. The U.N. Security Council was set to meet to discuss Yemen after President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a U.S. ally, accused the Iranian-allied Houthi militia of staging a coup against him and appealed to the United Nations for “urgent intervention”. U.S. officials said Washington had evacuated its remaining personnel from Yemen, including about 100 special operations forces, because of worsening security, marking a setback in U.S. efforts against a powerful al Qaeda branch. Conflict has been spreading across Yemen since last year when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa and removed Hadi from effective control of the state, angering Gulf Arab states led by Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, which regards the Shi'ite movement as a terrorist group. The Houthis then advanced into Sunni Muslim areas, leading to clashes with local tribes and al Qaeda and energizing a southern separatist movement. In Taiz, located on a main road from the capital Sanaa to the country's second city of Aden, residents said that Houthi militias took over the city's military airport from local authorities late on Saturday. PROTESTS The fighters also took control of a number of government buildings and a prison, they said. The takeover of the airport happened without a struggle, but later eyewitnesses reported Houthi gunmen firing tear gas and shooting into the air to disperse protests by residents demonstrating against the presence of Houthi forces. Eyewitnesses in the central province of Ibb described to Reuters seeing a column of dozens of tanks and military vehicles traveling from the Houthi-loyalist north on their way southward toward Taiz, 150 km (200 miles) northwest of Aden. On Sunday, anti-aircraft guns opened fire at an unidentified plane flying over Hadi's compound in Aden and appeared to force it away, witnesses said. It was the third incident of its kind in four days, in which aircraft have flown over the compound, where Hadi is based, on one occasion dropping bombs without causing any casualties. Aden's governor Abdulaziz bin Habtoor has accused the Houthi movement of ordering the flights over Aden, an allegation the group, which controls much of the north, has yet to address. The Houthis are allied with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who still has influence in the military despite having given up power in 2011 after mass protests against his rule. The Yemeni army has varied loyalties, with most units being controlled by the Houthis or Saleh, while some are loyal to Hadi. (Additional reporting by Sami Aboudi, Noah Browning, Angus McDowall, writing by William Maclean, editing by Louise Heavens) ================================== Haykal Bafana ‏@BaFana3 · 17m17 minutes ago Yemen | Hadi's Lahj frontline has 300km of border for possible Houthi incursions from Taiz, Al Baydha' and Al Dhale. Yes, Al Dhale'. #Yemen's South is extremely complicated. I doubt Hadi has enough army units & militia to defend this extended front. Tuesday, 24 March 2015 at 12:30:00 AM Yemeni president demands Houthis quit Sanaa amid new fighting Sat, Mar 21 13:31 PM EDT image By Mohammed Mukhashaf ADEN (Reuters) - Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on Saturday accused the Iranian-allied Houthi militia that controls the capital Sanaa of staging a coup against him, and said he would "raise Yemen's flag" in the Houthis' northern stronghold. In a call to arms from the southern city of Aden, where he fled last month after escaping house arrest by the Houthis, Hadi called on them to pull their forces out of state ministries, return weapons seized from the army, and quit Sanaa. "We shall deliver the country to safety and raise Yemen's flag on Mount Marran in Saadeh instead of the Iranian flag," he said in a televised speech, his first since reaching Aden. Iran is an ally of the Houthis, who belong to a Shi'ite Muslim sect. The Houthis, in a statement from their Supreme Revolutionary Committee, did not directly respond to the speech but called for a "general mobilization" of the armed forces against a "dirty war" they said was being waged by militias loyal to Hadi. Yemen has been hurtling towards civil war since last year when the Houthis seized Sanaa and advanced into Sunni areas, leading to clashes with local tribes and energizing a southern separatist movement. Hadi's flight to Aden has raised the prospect of armed confrontation between rival governments based in the north and south, creating chaos that could be exploited by the Yemen-based regional wing of al Qaeda. Fighting is spreading across the country, and 137 people were killed on Friday in the bombings of two Shi'ite mosques in Sanaa. They were claimed by Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that controls large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and said it was also behind an attack that killed 23 people in Tunisia on Wednesday. CALL FOR PEACE TALKS Hadi held open the door to a negotiated settlement with a call for the Houthis and other groups to attend peace talks in Saudi Arabia. He said Yemen must return to the political situation in place before the Houthis took control of Sanaa, restoring its constitution and implementing the results of a national dialogue process and Gulf-sponsored political transition. In his speech, he denounced the Houthis as "coup plotters" and said he wanted to confront sectarianism. Addressing Houthi accusations that he planned to back a southern secessionist movement, he said his flight to Aden had been intended to preserve the country's unity. Unidentified warplanes have bombed Hadi's Aden headquarters in recent days, and on Saturday forces loyal to the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is now allied to the Houthis, moved units to Taiz, 150 km (100 miles) northwest of Aden. In a reflection of the deteriorating security situation, Washington was withdrawing the last 100 of the special forces troops it had deployed to Yemen to conduct operations against al Qaeda and allied groups, CNN reported, citing sources in the region. Washington has been waging a drone war against the militants, who have alarmed Western and Gulf countries with their efforts to bomb international airliners and launch cross-border raids into top oil exporter Saudi Arabia. On Friday, al Qaeda militants killed 20 soldiers during a brief occupation of al-Houta, the capital of Lahj province, which is only 30 km (20 miles) from Aden, before being driven back by the army. There were also clashes between the Houthis and local tribes in the oil-producing area on the border of the Marib and al-Bayda provinces, which left 12 dead, according to tribal sources. Gunmen fired on anti-Houthi protesters in Taiz on Saturday, but no casualties were reported. Later on Saturday, Hadi appointed health minister Riyadh Yassin as acting foreign minister, Al Jazeera news reported. (Additional reporting by Mohammed Ghobari and Omar Fahmy in Cairo.; Writing by Angus McDowall in Riyadh; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Mark Trevelyan) ================================= Suicide bombers kill 137 in Yemen mosque attacks Fri, Mar 20 19:22 PM EDT image 1 of 3 By Mohammed Ghobari and Mohammed Mukhashaf SANAA/ADEN (Reuters) - Suicide bombers killed at least 137 worshippers and wounded hundreds more during Friday prayers at two mosques in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, in coordinated attacks claimed by Islamic State. The attacks on mosques used by supporters of the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi fighters who control the city were the deadliest in a years-long campaign of violence in the country, where Washington has been waging a drone air war against a local branch of the Sunni Muslim militant group al Qaeda. Sectarian unrest has increased in recent months after the Iran-backed Shi'ite fighters seized the capital last year. Four bombers wearing explosive belts targeted worshippers in and around the crowded mosques. State news agency Saba, which is controlled by the Houthis, put the death toll at 137 and the number of wounded at 357. Hospitals were overwhelmed, appealing for blood donors to help treat the large number of casualties. A Reuters journalist at the Badr mosque counted at least 25 bloody bodies lying in the street and inside the building. One man carried a child in his arms. Islamic State, the al Qaeda offshoot that controls swathes of Syria and Iraq and has been attracting followers in other countries, considers Shi'ites to be heretics. Both groups have now rallied against the Houthis in Yemen, giving them the same enemies as the U.S.-backed government in a complex, multi-sided conflict in the Arab world's poorest country. "Let the polytheist Houthis know that the soldiers of the Islamic State will not rest and will not stay still until they extirpate them," the group said in a statement posted by supporters on Twitter, claiming responsibility for the attacks. "God willing, this operation is only a part of the coming flood." Among the dead was Almortada al-Mahatwary, a leading figure in Yemen's Shi'ite Zaidi sect, the Houthi-controlled al-Masirah television channel said. Badr mosque was hit by two bombers and two others struck a second mosque. A fifth bomber was killed when he tried to attack a mosque in Saada province, a northern Houthi stronghold, but the device went off prematurely, a security source told Reuters. "I was going to pray at the (Badr) mosque then I heard the first explosion, and a second later I heard another one," a witness told Reuters. Television footage showed young men in traditional Yemeni clothes carrying lifeless bodies, some dripping with blood, out of the mosque. In Washington, the White House condemned the bombings and said it could not confirm that the attackers were affiliated with Islamic State. HURTLING TOWARD CIVIL WAR Yemen has been hurtling toward civil war since last year, when the Houthis seized most of the north, including Sanaa. President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a U.S. ally, fled the capital in February after a month imprisoned by the Houthis under house arrest and has set up a power base in the southern city of Aden. Unidentified warplanes have attacked his Aden palace for the past two days. Anti-aircraft guns fired on two planes that dropped bombs on an area that includes his residence on Friday. He was unharmed, sources at the presidency said. While Yemen is one of the main bases of al Qaeda, it has not previously been known as a major base for Islamic State, the Al Qaeda offshoot also known as ISIS or ISIL. Since last year, when Islamic State swept across northern Iraq and declared a caliphate to rule over all Muslims, militants in other countries have expressed their support for the group, although it is not clear if it actually directs them. In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said there was no clear operational link between the people who carried out Friday's attacks in Yemen and Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned "the terrorist attacks" and called on all sides "to immediately cease all hostile actions and exercise maximum restraint." Yemen has been sliding into turmoil since its long serving ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh was toppled after "Arab Spring" protests that began in 2011. Saleh is now believed to have allied himself with the Houthi fighters that he tried to crush while president. Since fleeing the capital, Hadi has been trying to consolidate his hold over Aden to challenge the Houthis' ambitions to control the whole country. Thirteen people were killed on Thursday when forces loyal to Hadi fought their way into Aden's international airport and wrested an adjacent military base from a renegade officer, Aden governor Abdulaziz bin Habtoor said. (Additional reporting by Sami Aboudi in Dubai and Omar Fahmy in Cairo; Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Peter Graff and John Stonestreet) ====== Suicide bombers attack Shiite mosques in Yemen, killing dozens Date March 20, 2015 - 10:45PM 63 reading now People injured in the bomb attack inside a mosque in Sanaa. Photo: Khaled Abdullah Suicide bombers attacked two mosques in Yemen's capital Sanaa during Friday prayers, the local Al-Azal television channel said, amid spiralling sectarian clashes. At least 55 people were killed in the attacks on the Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques, Agence France-Presse reported, citing emergency services. The mosques are controlled by supporters of the Shiite Houthi group that seized the capital in September after consolidating their grip on the north of the country. The attack came one day after President Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi was evacuated from his palace in Aden during intense gun battles between his fighters and rival troops loyal to Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The fighting in the southern city, which marked a major escalation in the country's conflict, left at least 15 dead. Mr Hadi fled to Aden last month seeking to re-assert his authority from the south and the city had been relatively quiet since. His presidency was backed by the mainly Sunni states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The conflict threatens to split Yemen and political instability may allow al-Qaeda to expand its operations in the impoverished nation. One witness said he heard two successive blasts at one of the mosques, known as Badr mosque, in a busy neighbourhood in central Sanaa. "I was going to pray at the mosque then heard the first explosion, and a second later I heard another one," the witness told Reuters. Hospitals in Sanaa were appealing for blood donors to help treat the large number of casualties. The rise to power of the Iran-backed Houthis since September last year has deepened divisions in Yemen's complex web of political and religious allegiances, and left the country increasingly cut off from the outside world. ================= resident supporters and opponents halts Aden flights (Reuters) - Clashes broke out between militia loyal to Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and rival security forces on Thursday near the airport in the southern city of Aden, bringing air traffic to a halt, local officials said. They said both sides used medium and light weapons in the fighting near a base that is used by special forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, an ally of the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi movement that controls northern Yemen. The fighting around the base in the Khor Maksar district of Aden spread to residential districts and prompted roads to the airport to be closed. There were no details on casualties in the clashes. Airport authorities could not immediately be reached for comment. The rise to power of the Iran-backed Houthis since September has deepened divisions in Yemen's complex web of political and religious allegiances, and left the country increasingly cut off from the outside world. Tensions have been heightened in Aden since Hadi fled there in February after escaping a month of house arrest in Sanaa by Houthi forces who seized the capital in September 2014. Hadi has been trying to consolidate his control over Aden since he fled there, ordering the sacking of the commander of the city's garrison, General Abdel-Hafez al-Saqqaf, and replacing him with one of his officers. Saqqaf, however, has refused to hand over command of the force, estimated between 1,500-2,000 troops culminating in a standoff. (Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf, writing by Sami Aboudi, Editing by William Maclean and Michael Perry)

No comments: