A series of explosions hit the Yemeni government’s temporary headquarters in the southern city of Aden on Tuesday as well as two buildings used by officers from the United Arab Emirates, local media reported.
Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Bahah escaped unharmed and senior officials from both countries were evacuated by helicopter in the aftermath of the explosions, officials told local newspaper Aden al-Ghad.
At least 18 people, mainly officers from the Emirati force backing Yemen’s recognized government against the Houthi rebels, were killed in the blasts, according to the newspaper.
Initial reports suggested the three buildings were hit by rocket fire, but Aden al-Ghad later quoted eyewitnesses as saying that one of the buildings used by Emirati officers came under a combined car bomb and gun attack – a tactic typical of the Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda.
The Yemeni government has adopted Aden – the capital of formerly independent South Yemen – as its temporary capital while the mainly Shiite Houthis remain in control of the capital Sana’a.
President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi, a native of the south, visited the city for several days in late September but later returned to Saudi Arabia.
Aden has been plagued by insecurity since local fighters and Emirati forces drove out the Houthis and allied Yemeni troops in July and there have been reports of activities by al-Qaeda and the Yemeni branch of Islamic State.
Recent days have seen fierce fighting reported along Yemen’s coast near the Bab al-Mandib Strait at the entrance to the Red Sea, and in Marib province east of Sana’a.
Anti-Houthi fighters claim to have recaptured the area around the Bab al-Mandib Strait and strategic points in Marib from the rebels.
Sources in the anti-Houthi camp on Monday evening told dpa that 20 Houthi fighters and 40 of their own forces had been killed in fighting and “mopping-up operations” in Marib.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other mainly Gulf states are also engaged in an intensive air campaign against the rebels, whose stronghold is in the tribal far north of the country.