Middle East

Rebel drone bombs Yemen military parade

0:00

A Yemeni government military parade outside the port city of Aden has been attacked by a Houthi drone, killing several people.

A bomb-laden drone piloted by Yemen's Houthi rebels has flown into a military parade outside of the southern port city of Aden, killing at least six troops from a Saudi-led coalition and their allies.

The brazen attack threatens UN-brokered peace efforts to end the years-long war tearing at the Arab world's poorest nation.

The attack at the Al-Anad Air Base, where American special forces once led their fight against Yemen's al-Qaeda branch, targeted high-ranking military officials in Yemen's internationally recognised government.

One of the wings of a drone that exploded above Yemen's al-Anad airbase.
One of the wings of a drone that exploded above Yemen's al-Anad airbase.
Getty

The attack also raised new questions about Iran's alleged role in arming the Houthis with drone and ballistic missile technology, something long denied by Tehran despite researchers and UN experts linking the weapons to the Islamic Republic.

"Once again this proves that the Houthi criminal militias are not ready for peace and that they are exploiting truces in order for deployment and reinforcements," said Information Minister Moammar al-Eryani, who said two senior military officials were wounded in the attack.

"This is time for the international community to stand by the legitimate government and force the militias to give up their weapons and pull out of the cities," he added.

Soldiers reacting after the explosion.
Soldiers reacting after the explosion.
Getty

The Houthis immediately claimed the attack through their al-Masirah satellite news channel, saying the attack targeted "invaders and mercenaries" at the base in the southern province of Lahj, leaving "dozens of dead and wounded."

Yemeni officials said that among the wounded were Mohammad Saleh Tamah, head of Yemen's Intelligence Service, senior military commander Mohammad Jawas, and Lahj governor Ahmed al-Turki, adding that authorities were still searching for wounded among the rubble.

Local reporter Nabil al-Qaiti was attending the ceremony and standing in front of the stage when he saw a drone approach and hover nearby about 25 metres high in the air, minutes after the parade started. Army spokesman Mohammed al-Naqib was delivering a speech from a podium when the drone exploded.

"It was a very strong explosion and we could feel the pressure," he said, adding that two of the people standing next to him - a soldier and a journalist- were wounded. Al-Qaiti saw many wounded but no dead.

"The drone was packed with explosives," he added.

Some 8000 soldiers had been taking part in the parade, as well as two governors and a large number of top military commanders including the chief of staff. Initial reports said six troops were killed.

Hopes were raised last month that the country was moving toward peace, after the two sides agreed to a prisoner swap and ceasefire in the port city of Hodeida, where rival forces were to withdraw to allow humanitarian aid flows to return and hopefully relieve a country pushed to the brink of famine by war.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch