Five killed in clashes at Yemen’s Aden airport

Flights were stopped after clashes near Aden International Airport broke out on Thursday.

Flights were stopped after clashes near Aden International Airport broke out on Thursday.

Yemeni special forces opposed to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi battled loyalist militia around Aden airport on Thursday leaving at least five people dead and 13 wounded, security sources said.

The clashes, which erupted before dawn, forced the airport to close as the Hadi loyalists battled to defend it against the advancing troops.

Flights were stopped after clashes near Aden International Airport broke out on Thursday, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Clashes between security forces loyal to toppled President Abdullah Saleh and Popular Resistance Committees members supporters of the current leader Abdrabouh Mansour Hadi in the seaport southwestern city.

Travelers arriving at the international airport early Thursday were told to turn back because of the fighting, which broke out overnight.

“I could not move,” one told AFP, saying that access to the airport was blocked by armed men.

The violence came after special forces commander Abdel Hafez al-Saqqaf deployed units on roads in the city, including near the airport.

The Popular Resistance Committees, loyal to Hadi, reacted to their deployment with clashes in various parts of the city, where tensions have been running high.

No further details of the clashes are available.

Hadi escaped last month from house arrest in Sanaa and fled to the second city of Aden in the south, where he is attempting to re-establish authority.

Tensions remain high in Sanaa, where groups opposing the Shiite Houthis have been staging frequent demonstrations demanding their pullout and voicing support for Hadi.

The Houthis fought six wars with the Yemeni government between 2004 and 2010.

A key U.S. ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda, Yemen has descended into chaos since the departure of Saleh, who has been accused of backing the Houthis.

Houthi official shot dead

On Wednesday, two gunmen on a motorbike shot dead a top Houthi official in Sanaa, a security source said.

Abdul Karim al-Khiwani, who was a member of the Revolutionary Committee of the Houthis that control Sanaa, was shot close to his home in an incident confirmed by Huthi television channel Al-Massira.

A journalist who won Amnesty International Special Award for Human Rights Journalism under Threat in 2009, he had been head of the militia’s media department.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International urged a quick probe of the “despicable killing of a leading journalist and activist,” saying Khiwani had a history of being harassed for his “outspoken journalism and peaceful activism.”

“His despicable killing today smacks of a politically motivated assassination,” said deputy regional director Said Boumedouha.

The London-based group said Khiwani had been jailed several times during Saleh’s rule.

Khiwani represented the Huthis during national talks held under a U.N.-backed deal that ended a year of deadly protests against Saleh, who stepped down in February 2012.


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