Aden, Oct 11: Yemeni police have arrested 10 members of the Islamist Al-Islah party, the group said today, following a roadside bombing that killed a cleric with ties to the United Arab Emirates. Imam Yassin al-Adani, a Yemeni cleric who serves as spiritual advisor to UAE troops allied with the government in Yemen's war, was killed on Saturday when a roadside bomb struck his car near the Zayed mosque in the southern city of Aden, multiple security sources told AFP.
The cleric's 12-year-old son was also injured in the attack, the sources said. In a statement received by AFP today, Al-Islah said police had arrested 10 members of the Sunni Islamist movement, including under-secretary general Mohammed Abdulmalik and a field commander.
The statement made no mention of Saturday's bombing. Al-Islah is a key member in a southern alliance that also brings together Yemeni tribes and southern separatists and has historically had links to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which the UAE blacklists as a terrorist organisation. Yemen's complex war pits a government alliance, backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, against a rebel camp with ties to Iran.
Jihadist groups, including the Yemen branch of Al-Qaeda, have also flourished in the chaos of war, primarily in the southern governorates. Foreign diplomats in the Gulf say the UAE's goals in the Yemen war include gaining control of the country's Red Sea ports and driving Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) out of the south. Northern Yemen, until 1990 independent from south Yemen, is controlled by the Shiite Huthi rebels.
The United States also regularly conducts drone strikes aimed at targets identified as affiliated with AQAP. More than 8,500 people have been killed since Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the Yemen war in 2015, according to the World Health Organization. The UN has also warned of mass starvation in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world.