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Blast, gunfire at Aden airport after plane carrying new government lands, 5 killed

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ADEN, Dec 30 (Reuters) – At least five people were killed and dozens more wounded in an attack on Aden airport, shortly after a plane carrying a newly formed government for Yemen arrived from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, a local security source told Reuters.

Loud blasts and gunfire were heard at the airport shortly after the plane arrived, witnesses said.

The cabinet members including Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik, as well as Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Said al-Jaber, were transferred safely to the city’s presidential palace, the witnesses and Saudi media said.

A local security source said three mortar shells landed on the airport’s hall.

The newly formed cabinet unites the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi with southern separatists. The two groups are the main Yemeni factions in a southern-based, Saudi-backed alliance, fighting against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement that controls the north.

Saudi state television Ekhbaria showed destroyed vehicles and smashed glass. Plumes of white smoke rose from the scene.

The southern port city of Aden has been mired in violence because of a rift between the separatists and Hadi’s government. The separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), which seeks independence for south Yemen, declared self rule in Aden earlier this year, triggering violent clashes and complicating U.N. efforts to forge a permanent ceasefire in the overall conflict.

The Saudi-led coalition announced earlier this month the new power-sharing cabinet that would include the separatists.

The cabinet landed from Riyadh where both parties negotiated for more than a year with Saudi mediation. (Reporting by Yemen staff, addtitional reporting by Raya Jalabi in Dubai; Writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi, editing by Andrew Heavens)

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