18 January 2020

Attack kills governor of Yemen's Aden

KONFRONTASI-The governor of Yemen's port city of Aden, Major-General Jaafar Mohammed Saad, has been killed in an attack along with six of his bodyguards.

Unknown assailants reportedly fired a rocket-propelled grenade at Saad's car in the Tawahi district in Aden, news reports said.

State-run SABA news agency confirmed that the governor was killed in the attack on Sunday morning.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack as of yet.

Tawahi has become a stronghold in recent months for armed groups including al-Qaeda, whose fighters have expanded their presence across the city.

Saad was only recently appointed governor and was known to be close to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who returned to Aden last month after several months in exile in Riyadh.

Pro-Hadi forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, have battled Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen since March, after the Houthis overran the capital Sanaa and advanced south, forcing Hadi's government to flee.

Saad's death comes a day after the country's UN envoy held talks with Hadi in Aden aimed at kickstarting peace talks between the warring sides.

Hisham al-Omeisy, a Yemeni political analyst, said the assassination of the governor was only the latest in a series of political killings in Aden in recent months.

"Major General Jaafar Mohammed Saad was pro-cession of the south of Yemen and was under a lot of pressure," Omeisy said, speaking to Al Jazeera from Sanaa.

"He was blocked from getting to his office several times in the past weeks and his movement in the city was very restricted. To a lot of people in Aden, this attack does not come as much of a surprise," Omeisy added.

"There is a security vacuum in Aden. Al-Qaeda and other militias are running freely. So it's very instable and therefore no surprise that the governor was targeted after we've seen several assassinations over the past two months," he said.

"It's likely going to get even worse, especially now that al-Qaeda has taken over in two cities just a few kilometers away from Aden. So they'll be moving into Aden and I think you'll see a war in the streets there very soon."[mr/aje]



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