"Islamic State" has claimed responsibility for a car bomb that killed the governor of Aden and six of his bodyguards. The assassination follows a visit by a UN special envoy seeking a peace pact.
Gov. Jaafar Mohamed Saad was traveling to his office in a convoy early Sunday when the explosion ripped through the vehicles in the Tawahi district of the southern port city.
Witnesses and security officials say several members of his entourage also died when the unidentified bomber rammed a vehicle into the governor's convoy before detonating the explosives, according to Reuters news agency.
The self-styled "Islamic State" claimed responsibility for the attack that killed the former army general in the former Marxist southern Yemen state. He had been appointed governor in October.
Aden has been declared the temporary capital of Yemen after a Saudi Arabia-led coalition of militaries helped government forces seize it from Iran-backed Houthi militias in July. Fighting between Houthi rebels and Yemeni forces broke out in February, and saw the Houthis take control of Yemen's capital, Saana, and large parts of the country.
The deadly attack comes a day after UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to lay preparations for peace talks set to take place in Geneva later this month.
Saudi-led air campaign continues
Previous UN-mediated negotiations to end the conflict through dialogue failed as battles rage across the country, with Saudi-led warplanes bombing Houthi militias and their allies in operations that have been condemned as indiscriminate and needlessly destructive by the UN and monitoring groups.
The Houthi group swept Hadi from power in February as part of what it called a revolution against corruption and accused Hadi of being beholden to Saudi Arabia and the United States.
In a statement released Saturday following the president's meeting with the UN envoy, Hadi said he was ready to sit down and talk with Houthi rebels on December 15 in Geneva.
"Despite the suffering and wounds, our hands are always outstretched for peace based on national and humanitarian responsibilities towards our people," Hadi was quoted as saying after meeting the envoy.
Islamist militants exploit chaos of civil war
Despite overwhelming firepower and air support from countries in the Saudi coalition, Hadi has struggled to impose his authority on Aden and other regions. In brazen attacks, gunmen carried out two deadly shootings on Saturday.
Eyewitnesses said militants on motorcycles shot and killed Muhsin Alwan, a prominent judge in an anti-terrorism court, and his two sons inside a supermarket in the Aden district of Mansura.
Gunmen also fired on military police in the Mualla neighborhood earlier in the day. A police colonel was killed.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has also exploited the lawlessness and chaos brought by the Yemen civil war. It has claimed credit for a number of deadly attacks in Yemen and abroad.
jar/sms (Reuters, AP)