Suicide bomber targets police chief in Yemen’s Aden, kills 7

Updated 17 January 2016

Suicide bomber targets police chief in Yemen’s Aden, kills 7

SANAA, Yemen: A suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into the police chief’s house in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on Sunday, killing seven civilians and security forces in a failed assassination attempt after militants killed two other security officials elsewhere in the country.
Police Chief Shallal Al-Shayei survived a similar assassination attempt last month, as did the governor of the province, which forces loyal to the internationally recognized government pried away from Shiite Houthi rebels last year. Aden’s previous governor was killed in an attack claimed by a local Islamic State affiliate.
Ambulances raced to the police chief’s house after the explosion, which could be heard across the city, witnesses said. Officials said an armored vehicle blocked the suicide car bomber meters from the gates of the house. Seven people were killed and 12 injured after the explosion ripped through a bus that was passing by.
Yemen has been mired in a conflict pitting the Shiite Houthi rebels against the internationally-backed government, which is allied with a Saudi-led coalition. The fighting has killed more than 5,800 people since last March, when the coalition began striking Houthi targets from the air.
The chaos has allowed a powerful local Al-Qaeda affiliate and a more recently formed branch of the Daesh group to expand their reach, including in Aden, Yemen’s commercial hub.
US drones have carried out a number of strikes since the start of the year targeting Al-Qaeda militants, according to security officials and witnesses, who said drone strikes killed 13 militants on Sunday in Jaar, a town seized by Al-Qaeda last year. They did not know the affiliation of the militants.
It was not immediately possible to confirm the account. US officials rarely speak publicly about the covert drone program.
The Saudi-led coalition meanwhile appears to have stepped up airstrikes in northern Yemen targeting the Houthis and allied army units loyal to a former president. Residents said the coalition launched at least 35 strikes on Sunday in the capital and the northern province of Jawf.
In Saada, the Houthis’ northern heartland, Houthi officials and witnesses said an air raid killed at least 30 people on Saturday. It was not clear if they were civilians or fighters.
Elsewhere in Yemen, Police Chief Adel Al-Asbahi of Bayda province was killed by a bomb planted in his vehicle on Sunday, while Mohammed Al-Dhali, of the special forces, was gunned down by attackers on a motorcycle in the rebel-held capital, Sanaa. No group has claimed responsibility for the killings.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press. Witnesses requested anonymity for security reasons.

Pressure grows in US for firm response to Iran after Aramco attacks 

Updated 45 min 32 sec ago

Pressure grows in US for firm response to Iran after Aramco attacks 

  • Senator Lindsey Graham urges retaliatory strikes on Iranian oilfields if Tehran continues ‘provocations’
  • UN Secretary General urged for calm and called on both sides to ‘exercise restraint’

WASHINGTON: An American senator has called for Washington to consider an attack on Iranian oil facilities as pressure grows in the US for a firm response to the Saudi Aramco strikes.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the drone attacks on Saturday against the Abqaiq oil processing plant and the Khurais oil field. He also suggested that unlike previous drone and missile attacks on the Kingdom, this one may not have been launched from Yemen by the Iran-backed Houthis. Reports have said that the attack may have originated in Iraq where Iran also holds sway over a large number of powerful militias.

“It is now time for the US to put on the table an attack on Iranian oil refineries if they continue their provocations or increase nuclear enrichment,” Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator close to Donald Trump, said on Twitter.

“Iran will not stop their misbehavior until the consequences become more real, like attacking their refineries, which will break the regime’s back.”

Iran on Sunday denied it was behind the attack, but the Yemeni Houthi militia backed by Tehran, claimed they had launched them. 

The White House on Sunday did not rule out a potential meeting between President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, even after Washington accused Iran of being behind drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said the attacks “did not help” prospects for a meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the United Nations General Assembly this month but she left open the possibility it could happen.

"You're not helping your case much," by attacking Saudi Arabia, civilian areas and critical infrastructure that affects global energy markets.” Conway told the Fox News Sunday program.

The Trump administration's sanctions and “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile program will continue whether or not the two leaders meet, she added.

The US ramped up pressure on Iran last year after trump withdrew from an international pact to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

Washington has reimposed a tough sanctions regime on Tehran, which it accuses of hiding behind the nuclear deal to advance its missiles program and aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, condemnation of the attacks continued from around the world.

Kuwait's emir telephoned King Salman on Sunday to express his condemnation of the attack.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and called upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint to prevent any escalation.

King Salman also received a telephone call from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressing his deep condemnation.
Abbas affirmed that the Palestinian government and people stand with the Kingdom to confront these terrorist acts of aggression.

UK foreign minister Dominic Raab said the attack was a “reckless attempt to damage regional security and disrupt global oil supplies.”

The European Union warned of a “real threat to regional security” in the Middle East.

*With Reuters