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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Yemeni explosives expert killed while defusing bomb in Aden

Device was planted in a busy district of Yemen's temporary capital

A Yemeni demining unit prepares to destroy unexploded bombs and mines collected from conflict areas near the southern port city of Aden. Reuters
A Yemeni demining unit prepares to destroy unexploded bombs and mines collected from conflict areas near the southern port city of Aden. Reuters

A bomb planted in the southern Yemeni city of Aden killed an explosives expert and severely injured four others as they were trying to defuse it on Thursday.

The bomb was planted near a restaurant in a busy area of Sheikh Othman district in north Aden, said Maj Gen Qiad Halboob, executive director of the Yemen Mines Action Centre.

The Yemeni officer killed was Col Abdullah Sarhan, one of the centre's best demining experts, Maj Gen Halboob said.

Col Sarhan, who was 48, had three daughters and a son, he said.

"He sacrificed himself to save hundreds of lives. The bomb blew up on him because it was a handmade device, assembled in a primitive way."

It was not clear who had planted the bomb, but Aden has witnessed repeated attacks by Al Qaeda and ISIS since Yemen's civil war began in 2014. The southern port city serves as the country's temporary capital after Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized Sanaa in September that year.

The rebels, who held Aden briefly in 2015 before being pushed out by pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, have planted tens of thousands of explosives across the country.

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Maj Gen Halboob said the Yemeni Mines Action Centre had removed and disposed of 296,000 mines and explosive devices in areas retaken from the rebels since March 2015, when the coalition intervened in the war to support the government.

In the same period, 28 of the centre's explosives experts had been killed on the job and 50 were injured, with most of them losing their lower limbs, he said.

"We have been working since the beginning of the war in many liberated areas in the country. However we don't have any vehicles and we depend on old equipment granted by the UNDP [UN Development Programme]," Maj Gen Halboob said.

He said the most-needed equipment was cars, protective gear and modern systems to detect and defuse mines. Most of the centre's equipment was stolen during the war, while 36 of its vehicles were destroyed in explosions during field work.

"Nowadays the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been launching new projects to remove thousands of mines planted by the Houthi militia in all the provinces they occupied, especially in Hodeidah and Jawf in the north," Maj Gen Halboob said.

These include the five-year Masam project launched by Saudi Arabia's King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre in June, which will work to clear Houthi mines all over Yemen, he said.

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