Six injured as blaze spreads after ‘sabotage’ blast at Aden refinery

Fire engulfs an oil storage tank at the Aden oil refinery following an explosion in Aden, (Reuters)
Updated 13 January 2019

Six injured as blaze spreads after ‘sabotage’ blast at Aden refinery

  • Civil defense crews battle to stop fire taking hold in fuel storage tank complex

JEDDAH: Six people were injured on Saturday when a fire caused by an explosion in a storage tank at the main oil refinery in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden spread to a second tank.

The cause of the blast late on Friday is still unknown, but security officials described it as sabotage.

The fire, which also spread to a nearby pipeline, was “the result of an explosion, probably a deliberate act of sabotage,” one said.

“The fire brigade are working to contain the blaze and stop it spreading to the neighboring storage tanks, which are full of oil and diesel” donated by Saudi Arabia, he said.

Another official said security forces had prevented anyone from leaving the site and opened an investigation into the incident. Early indications suggested “an explosion and an act of sabotage” were to blame, he also said.

Aden is under the control of the internationally recognized government, which is backed by the Saudi-led coalition. 

It took up residence there after Iran-backed Houthi militias ousted it from the capital, Sanaa, in 2014. Aden’s refinery was damaged the following year in fighting that put it out of operation for more than a year, causing severe fuel shortages and power cuts.

Farther north on Saturday, there were clashes between Houthi and government forces in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, placing more pressure on a fragile UN-brokered truce.

Artillery and machinegun exchanges broke out in the southern part of Hodeidah in early morning before tapering off later in day.

The UN says the cease-fire has largely held since it came into force on Dec. 18 but there have been delays in the agreed pullback of Houthi and government forces.


Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

Updated 18 August 2019

Jordan criticizes Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque changes

  • Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa

AMMAN: Jordan has stepped up its diplomatic pressure on Israel, demanding that they do not change the status quo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Zaid Lozi, director-general of Jordan’s Foreign Ministry, summoned Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Amir Weissbrod to protest Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.

According to Petra News, Lozi told the envoy that recent remarks by Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Ardan over changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque are unacceptable. Lozi added that the mosque is a place of worship for Muslims only.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi addressed a group of EU ambassadors in Amman and “stressed the urgency of effective international steps against Israel’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied Jerusalem.”

Safadi told Arab News that the situation in Jerusalem is challenging and must be addressed. He said that he will present a detailed report on Jordan’s position to Parliament on Monday.

The ministry denounced the Israeli authorities’ closure of the mosque’s gates and demanded that Israel respects its obligations in accordance with international humanitarian law.

HIGHLIGHT

• Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Hatem Abdel Qader, a member of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, told Arab News that Israeli authorities had been attempting to enforce major changes at the mosque.

“Security forces barged into the mosque yesterday. They went to the Bab Al-Rahmeh Mosque where they confiscated carpets and the closet where shoes are kept.”

Jordan’s diplomatic statements follow comments by Ardan, who said that Israel is disappointed with the current state of affairs at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

According to Israeli officials, the mosque area is sovereign Israeli territory, despite it being administered by Jordan. Muslims insist that all 144,000 square meters of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are a single unit that has belonged to them for 11 centuries.

Qader said that Palestinians welcomed the Jordanian position but expressed concerns over a decline of support for Amman’s custodianship of the holy places at Al-Aqsa.

“There appears to have been a gradual deterioration of Arab and Islamic support to Jordan. It surprises me that Muslims have been quiet, perhaps they see an advantage if Jordan’s role is diminished? If true, this would be dangerous.”

Qader, a former minister in the Palestinian government and a current member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, told Arab News that Jordan’s position “guarantees continuation of the status quo.”