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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 April 2019

Yemen Intelligence chief dies after Houthi drone attack

Yemeni government blames Iran for Thursday's deadly drone attack on airbase

Yemeni soldiers reacting after a drone exploded above Al Anad Airbase. AFP
Yemeni soldiers reacting after a drone exploded above Al Anad Airbase. AFP

Yemen's intelligence chief, Brigadier General Saleh Tammah, died on Sunday, just three days after being injured in a Houthi drone attack on the country's largest airbase.

At least seven member of the armed forces were killed and 11 injured in Thursday's incident, which threatens to hamper UN-led peace efforts.

General Tammah was born in 1950 in Lahij province, in Yemen's south.

In 1986 he took part in the 11-day South Yemen Civil War, when factions of the ruling Yemeni Socialist Party clashed.

Eight years later he fought again, this time in Yemen's two-month civil war between north and south. In July 1994 he fled to the US as northern forces descended on Aden. He lived in America for the next 13 years.

In 2007 he joined the Southern Movement and was put in charge of leading a number of battles against forces loyal to former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

He was appointed commander of the Al Anad Airbase in 2015, the same base where he was fatally wounded on Thursday.

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Among those injured were Yemen's deputy chief of staff Saleh Al Zandani, senior army commander Fadel Hasan and Lahij governor Ahmad Abdullah Al Turki.

Mr Turki and Mr Zandani were taken to Saudi Arabia for treatment.

Undersecretary at Yemen's information ministry, Fayyad Al Noman, said the attack was a "dangerous escalation" by the Houthis and showed Iran's hand in supporting the rebels.

“The drone is run by experts from Tehran because the Houthis do not have the capability to carry out a high-technology operation and run a wireless system,” Mr Al Noman told The National.

The UN urged "all parties to the conflict to exercise restraint and refrain from further escalation".

At talks in Sweden last month, the UN brokered several agreements between the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government, regarded as the best chance of ending nearly four years of conflict.

The warring sides agreed on truce deals for the key rebel-held port of Hodeida and battleground third city Taez.

A new round of consultations, possibly in Kuwait and aimed at drafting a political framework, is being worked on by the UN.

Updated: January 13, 2019 05:33 PM

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