Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement launched missile and drone attacks on a military parade in Aden, the seat of the Saudi-backed government, killing more than 30 people according to medical and security sources.
A Reuters witness saw nine bodies after an explosion at a military camp housing Yemeni Security Belt forces backed by the United Arab Emirates, a member of the Saudi-led military coalition battling the Houthis.
The attack killed at least 32 people, a medical and a security source told Reuters. Medecins Sans Frontieres tweeted many wounded were hospitalised.
Soldiers screamed and ran to help the wounded and place them on trucks.
The Houthi official channel Al Masirah TV said the group launched a medium-range ballistic missile and an armed drone at the parade staged in preparation for a military move against provinces held by the movement.
A pro-government military source and security sources said a commander, Brigadier General Muneer al-Yafee, a leading figure of the southern separatists, was among those killed.
“The blast occurred behind the stand where the ceremony was taking place at Al Jalaa military camp in Buraiqa district in Aden,” the Reuters witness said. “A group of soldiers were crying over a body believed to be the commander.”
Yafee stepped off the stage to greet a guest when the explosion occurred. Flags of the former South Yemen and leading coalition members fluttered as the military band waited for its cue to start.
The Western-backed Sunni Muslim coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government ousted from power in Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.
The government of Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi controls the southern port city Aden. The Houthi movement, which says its revolution is against corruption, holds Sanaa and most larger urban centres in the Arabian Peninsula nation.
The parade “was to prepare for an advance on Taiz and Dalea,” Masirah cited a Houthi military spokesman as saying.
There was no immediate comment from the Yemeni government or the coalition.
Last month the UAE said it was scaling down its presence in Yemen, pulling troops from areas including Aden and the west coast deployed for operations against the Houthis in port city Hodeidah, where a UN-brokered ceasefire has been in place since December.
An Emirati official said the UAE would not leave a vacuum in Yemen as it had trained 90,000 Yemeni forces, drawn from southern separatists, including Security Belt forces and coastal plains fighters.
The Houthis stepped up cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi cities and the coalition responded with air strikes mostly around Sanaa.
The escalating violence could complicate UN-led efforts to implement a troop withdrawal in Hodeidah, the main entry point for Yemen’s commercial and aid imports, to pave the way for talks to end the war amid mistrust and competing agendas of Yemen’s fractious groups.
The more than four-year conflict widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran has killed thousands.
In a separate attack in another district of Aden, an explosives-laden car blew up at a police station killing three soldiers, a security source said.
It was not clear if the incidents were related. Previous car attacks in Yemen have been carried out by Islamist militant groups like al Qaeda.