ADEN (Reuters) - A bombardment in Aden by the Houthi militia and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh killed 43 people and injured 173 on Sunday, the health ministry of Yemen’s exiled government said two days after declaring the city had been liberated.
Clashes continued in the city’s northern districts of Dar al-Saad and Sabr, and in Maashiq in Crater district as local fighters backed by the Riyadh-based government and a Saudi-led Arab coalition pushed to seize remaining parts of Aden.
Those fighters and Yemeni army forces loyal to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi seized Aden’s airport and other central areas in a sudden advance last week that broke months of deadlock in the city.
Their advance was aided by Gulf efforts to train and equip Yemeni army forces loyal to Hadi and transport them to Aden, Yemen’s second largest city and home to the main seaport.
Local fighters in Aden have been supported by coalition air strikes for nearly four months, but often fly the flag of a southern Yemen separatist movement rather than voicing loyalty to Hadi’s exiled government.
The Saudi-led coalition began its campaign on March 26, bidding to reverse months of advances by the Houthis after they moved from their northern stronghold last year, capturing the capital Sanaa and pushing south to Aden.
Riyadh fears its main enemy Iran will use its alliance with the Houthis to project influence into the kingdom’s southern neighbor, ultimately threatening the Saudi border.
It also believes the advance of the Shi’ite Muslim Houthis will aggravate sectarian violence in Yemen, further undermining the country’s stability and allowing jihadist groups like al Qaeda to consolidate there before targeting Saudi Arabia.
Reporting By Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Andrew Heavens