Aden death toll mounts with killing of police officer
ADEN // Gunmen killed a police colonel and his aide in Aden on Saturday, a day after 16 people including four Catholic nuns were shot dead at a home for the elderly in Yemen’s southern port city.
Witnesses said Col Salem Al Milqat, the police chief of Tawahi district, was attacked as his car was passing through Aden’s Al Mansoura area, which has seen several assaults on local security officials.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but both ISIL and Al Qaeda have carried out previous assassinations in the city.
The Yemeni government blamed ISIL for Friday’s raid on the care home in Aden’s Sheikh Othman district, which was condemned by Pope Francis and the GCC.
“There was no trace of these groups, which go under the name of the Islamic State or Daesh” when pro-government forces were battling the Houthi rebels and their allies to push them out of Aden last year, a source in the presidency said, accusing the extremists of “switching roles” with the Iran-backed rebels.
Those behind such “treacherous terrorist acts” have “sold themselves to the devil”, the source was quoted as saying on the official sabanew.net website.
The Yemen-based branch of Al Qaeda denied any links to Friday’s attack in a statement addressed to the residents of Aden.
“These are not our operations and this is not our way of fighting,” said the group, which has seized parts of southern and eastern Yemen.
Gunmen stormed the old age home operated by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, killing a Yemeni guard before tying up and shooting 15 other employees, officials said.
Witnesses described hearing the screams of elderly residents during the shooting rampage, and bodies with their arms tied behind their backs scattered on the bloodstained floor.
The Vatican missionary news agency Fides identified the killed nuns as two Rwandans, a Kenyan and an Indian, adding that the mother superior managed to hide and survive while an Indian priest was missing.
A message from Pope Francis issued by the Vatican described the attack as “diabolical”, while the GCC said it “reveals the goals of forces which are against the return of security and stability to Yemen”.
GCC members Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait are part of a coalition seeking to restore the internationally recognised government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, which was forced to flee the capital, Sanaa, after it was seized by rebels in September 2014.
The Houthis, who are allied to forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, also controlled Aden for months before government loyalists backed by coalition forces and air strikes pushed them out in July.
Mr Hadi has declared the city to be Yemen’s temporary capital.
* Reuters and Agence France-Presse
Updated: March 5, 2016 04:00 AM