Yemen: UN experts blame Houthis for attack on Aden airport
Houthis reject a UN report that finds they were likely responsible for the deadly airport attack in December.
The airport attack killed at least 20 people, including the deputy minister of public works, and injured more than 100 people [File: Fawaz Salman/Reuters]
31 Mar 2021
A deadly attack on December 30, 2020, on Aden airport in Yemen was carried out with missiles similar to those possessed by Houthi fighters and fired from locations under their control, according to a report submitted to the United Nations Security Council.
The attack killed at least 20 people, including the deputy minister of public works, and injured more than 100 people.
In a key section of the UN report, a panel of experts concluded “with very high confidence” that “at least two missiles were launched from Taiz airport towards Aden on Dec. 30, 2020, and that it is likely that two additional missiles were launched from the police training centre in Dhamar City”.
“The panel has been able to confirm that both locations were under the control of the Houthi forces at the time of the launches,” the panel said.
“Three explosions occurred … minutes after a plane carrying Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, members of his ‘unity’ cabinet and other senior government officials had landed,” the report said.
“The airport was hit by three precision-guided, short-distance, surface-to-surface ballistic missiles carrying fragmentation warheads, likely an extended-range version of the Badr-1P missile, which has been part of the Houthi arsenal since 2018.”
The Houthis on Wednesday rejected the report.
“Any report on Yemen … issued without an independent committee is rejected,” Houthi political commander Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said.
He added it “is unrealistic, biased, and lacks credibility”.
According to a summary of the confidential investigative report obtained on Tuesday by AFP news agency, the missiles were an attempt to hit the plane carrying government officials, as well as the VIP lounge, where a press conference had been planned.
They were fired from “facilities under the control of the Houthi forces at the time of the attacks,” it said.
A last-minute decision to park the plane further away from the terminal building, as well as a delay in passengers disembarking, prevented further casualties, it said.
The southern port city of Aden is Yemen’s de facto capital, where the internationally-recognised government is based after being routed from the capital Sanaa in the north by Houthi rebels.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by Houthi rebels.
A Saudi-led coalition supported by the United States and allied with the government has been fighting the rebels since March 2015.
The conflict has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and pushed thousands of Yemenis to the brink of starvation.
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