SANAA, Yemen, Jan 10, (AP): A bomb-laden drone launched by Yemen’s Shiite rebels exploded over a military parade for the Saudi-led coalition and its allies on Thursday near the southern port city of Aden, killing at least six people in a brazen attack that threatened UNbrokered peace efforts to end the yearslong war tearing at the Arab world’s poorest nation. The attack at the Al-Anad Air Base, where American special forces once led their fight against Yemen’s al-Qaeda branch, targeted high-ranking military officials in Yemen’s internationally recognized government with what the rebel Houthis described as a new version of one of their drones.
The attack also raised new questions about Iran’s alleged role in arming the Houthis with drone and ballistic missile technology, something long denied by Tehran despite researchers and UN experts linking the Yemeni rebel weapons to the Islamic Republic. “Once again this proves that the Houthi criminal militias are not ready for peace and that they are exploiting truces in order for deployment and reinforcements,” said Information Minister Moammar al-Eryani, who said two senior military officials were wounded in the attack. “This is time for the international community to stand by the legitimate government and force the militias to give up their weapons and pull out of the cities,” he added.
The Houthis immediately claimed the attack through their al-Masirah satellite news channel, saying the attack targeted “invaders and mercenaries” at the base in the southern province of Lahj, leaving “dozens of dead and wounded.” Yemeni officials said that among the wounded were Mohammad Saleh Tamah, head of Yemen’s Intelligence Service, senior military commander Mohammad Jawas, and Lahj governor Ahmed al-Turki, adding that authorities were still searching for wounded among the rubble.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to reporters. Local reporter Nabil al-Qaiti was attending the ceremony and standing in front of the stage when he saw a drone approach at a height of about 25 meters (82 feet) in the air, minutes after the parade started. Army spokesman Mohammed al-Naqib was delivering a speech from a podium when the drone exploded.
“It was a very strong explosion and we could feel the pressure,” he said, adding that two of the people standing next to him – a soldier and another journalist- were wounded. Al-Qaiti saw many wounded but no dead. “The drone was packed with explosives,” he added.