January 5, 2016 / 2:40 PM / 4 years ago

Southern Yemeni officials survive car bomb attack in Aden

People gather at the site of a car bomb attack in Yemen's southern port city of Aden January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Nasser Awad

ADEN (Reuters) - Three senior southern Yemeni officials survived a suicide car bomb attack on their convoy in Aden and a subsequent gun battle that killed three of their guards on Tuesday, a government spokesman and security sources said.

The incident highlights the security chaos in the port city, the temporary seat of Yemen’s embattled government, as its loyalists seek to wrest the capital Sanaa from the Iran-allied Houthi movement with support from a Saudi-led coalition.

“A suicide bomber in a car detonated as the convoy of the governors of Aden and Lahj provinces along with the Aden security director passed through the area of Inma,” Nizar Anwar, a government spokesman said.

Three soldiers were killed in the exchange of fire which followed the attack, security sources said, before the assailants retreated into the surrounding desert.

Aidaroos al-Zubairi was appointed governor of Aden after his predecessor was killed in a car bomb attack on Dec. 6 claimed by Islamic State, the latest attack by the new Yemen branch of the militant group against government targets.

Islamic State’ has stepped up operations since the outbreak of civil war in Yemen, emerging as a forceful rival to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the main militant group in the country in recent years.

Security officials have launched a crackdown on suspected militants, imposing a curfew and arresting at least 70 suspects overnight, according to security sources.

The mostly Gulf Arab alliance intervened in Yemen’s civil war on March 26 to support the government.

Alliance and anti-Houthi forced seized Aden from the Houthis over the summer but have yet to impose their writ on the city, where militants and other gunmen have a prominent presence.

Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Alison Williams

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