Gunmen opposed to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi have attacked the international airport in Aden, exchanging fire with security forces. Hadi had declared the southern city the nation's provisional capital.
At least three people were killed and several more wounded after gunmen loyal to Yemen's former autocratic President Ali Abdullah Saleh stormed the international airport in the southern city of Aden Thursday, forcing the facility to close.
The attackers exchanged fire with security forces loyal to current President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Loud explosions were heard as government security forces fired back on the attacking gunmen from armored vehicles on the tarmac.
"Air traffic at Aden airport was suspended and flights canceled," an airport source told the news agency AFP.
Saleh, ousted in 2011 following a popular uprising, is an ally of the Shiite Muslim Houthi movement that seized the capital, Sanaa, this past September and currently controls northern Yemen. Hadi, who fled Sanaa after the rebel uprising at the hands of the rebels, re-established himself in Aden in an attempt to reassert power and declared the port city the country's temporary capital.
The Saleh loyalists are led by renegade police Brig. Gen. Abdul-Hafez al-Saqqaf, according to security officials. Saqqaf had defied a decree by Hadi relieving him of his command, saying he would only follow orders issued from Houthi-controlled Sanaa.
Losing control of the airport would further isolate Hadi, who enjoys considerable support in Aden and insists he remains the country's legitimate ruler.
The poorest country in the Arab world, Yemen has seen its security situation steadily deteriorate since the Houthi rebels took control and began imposing their demands on the government.
Several countries, including the United States, UK, Germany, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Turkey, have closed their embassies because of unrest in the country.
bw/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)