The aftermath of a suicide blast in Aden. Image Credit: Aden Al Ghad

Al Mukalla: A suicide car bomb detonated outside Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s residence in the southern city of Aden on Thursday, a local official and eyewitnesses said.

“A suicide car bomb targeted a security checkpoint about 500 metres from the Maashiq palace, and there were casualties,” the official told Reuters by telephone.

Another official said several people were killed and wounded in the attack, the latest in a series of deadly attacks by militants against government and security targets.

Sources speaking to Gulf News said that the bomb targeted the new governor of Aden who was on his way to the presidential palace, where Hadi lives.

Major General Ali Nasser Lakhsha, deputy interior minister told Gulf News from the scene that the explosion killed five people and injured many others.

“ The suicide bomber blew up his car in the first checkpoint of the palace when he failed to reach a convoy of armed vehicle heading to the palace.”

In December, Daesh claimed responsibility for an explosion that killed Aden’s governor at the time.

The huge explosion killed Jaafar Mohammad Saad and six of his bodyguards.

In January, Aden’s new governor, Aidarus Al Zubaidi, survived an assassination attempt.

A car bomb exploded as his convoy was passing, killing at least one body guard. Daesh also claimed the attack.

Yemeni Prime Minister Khalid Bahah, who endorsed a major security plan for Aden on Wednesday, anticipated a strong backlash from armed groups.

He advised security forces to be on heightened alert.

In the past city authorities have taken a number of measures to curb assassinations. A night-time curfew has been in place since early this month and motorbikes were banned from roaming around the city.

But despite the precautions, Yemen’s government has been working on a comprehensive security plan which was announced on Wednesday.

The plan, which aims to put an end to months of lawlessness and anarchy in Aden, will be implemented in a “few weeks”, said Major General Ali Nasser Lakhsha, deputy interior minister.

Prepared by local military officers and others from the Saudi-led coalition including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Sudan and Bahrain, the plan is built on three points.

The first point is establishing strict security checks on main roads that link the city with the neighbouring provinces of Abyan and Lahj to stop criminals and terrorists from sneaking into the city.

The second point would be to deploy security forces backed by heavy arms and vehicles inside the city.

The third point is intelligence gathering and house raids on armed groups and individuals who carry out attacks.

Hadi made Aden the country’s temporary capital after fleeing from house arrest in Sana’a last year.

Iran-backed Al Houthi militants took over the city in 2015 and occupied government institutions.

Almost all security bodies crumbled in the wake of government’s fierce clashes with the militants who were trying to take control of the city.

Local armed groups thought to be linked to Al Qaida and Daesh took advantage of ensuing chaos to assassinate security officers.

“We are confident that the plan will be successful,”Lakhsha told Gulf News from his office in Aden.

The security officer said that his optimism about the security plan stems from overwhelming support from residents who are “fed up” with anarchy.

“There is huge support for the army and security forces from the coalition here,” he said.

“The coalition forces are standing shoulder to shoulder with our forces on the grounds,” he added.

Al Houthis and forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh are facing trouble in their strongholds in north Yemen, he pointed out.

“They are focused on maintaining their grip in those areas so they are not in a position to export chaos to Aden,” he said.

Besides terrorism, Aden is plagued by petty crimes like burglary and tribal feuds.