Yemen president in surprise visit to Aden

President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi visits city still suffering from bombings and shootings 18 months on from start of civil war.

Yemeni president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, centre, disembarks at Aden airport on November 26, 2016 for his first visit to the city in a year.  Saba / AFP
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ADEN // Yemeni President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi flew into Aden from his base in Saudi Arabia on Saturday on a surprise visit to the headquarters of his government.

Mr Hadi is expected to stay for a few days in the city, which still suffers from bombings and shootings 18 months after his loyalists drove out Iran-backed rebels with the support of a Saudi-led coalition.

It is the president’s first visit to Aden in a year and comes two months after prime minister Ahmed bin Dagher and seven ministers set up base in the city.

The government had previously operated from exile since October 2015.

The capital Sanaa, like most of the north of the country, remains in the hands of the rebel and their allies.

Even in the south, Mr Hadi’s forces have repeatedly been attacked by extremists from both Al Qaeda and ISIL. Security chiefs in Aden have been a particular target.

Mr Hadi’s visit came as fierce fighting raged between pro-government forces and the rebels following the collapse of a US-backed ceasefire on Monday.

The rebels launched a renewed assault on the outskirts of the town of Midi, on the Red Sea coast near the Saudi border, killing six soldiers and wounding 14, a military official said.

Loyalist forces captured the town in January but it has since changed hands several times.

The rebels lost two fighters but succeeded in clearing loyalist forces from the road between Midi and Haradh, a town inland that has also changed hands several times in the past year, the official said.

Further east, government forces launched a cross-border incursion from the Saudi province of Najran, capturing the long-closed Al Baqaa customs post and killing 18 rebels, another military official said. Six loyalists were also killed.

*Agence France-Presse