Masked assailants set church ablaze in Yemen’s Aden

The masked arsonists torched St Joseph, a Roman Catholic church in the central Crater neighbourhood of the port city, which is controlled by loyalists of the exiled government.

By: AFP | Aden | Published:September 16, 2015 4:24 pm
FILE PHOTO: A boy walks near the rubbles of houses destroyed during fighting between tribal fighters and Shiite rebels known as Houthis in Taiz, Yemen, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. Yemen's conflict pits the Iran-allied Houthis and troops loyal to the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, against an array of forces including southern separatists, local and tribal militias, Sunni Islamic militants as well as troops loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. (AP Photo/Abdulnasser Alseddik) FILE PHOTO: A boy walks near the rubbles of houses destroyed during fighting between tribal fighters and Shiite rebels known as Houthis in Taiz, Yemen, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. Yemen’s conflict pits the Iran-allied Houthis and troops loyal to the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, against an array of forces including southern separatists, local and tribal militias, Sunni Islamic militants as well as troops loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. (AP Photo/Abdulnasser Alseddik)

Unidentified assailants set ablaze one of the few churches in Yemen’s second city Aden today, a day after it had been damaged by vandals, witnesses said. The masked arsonists torched St Joseph, a Roman Catholic church in the central Crater neighbourhood of the port city, which is controlled by loyalists of the exiled government.

A security official said the attackers could be militants of Al-Qaeda. “The church is in flames,” resident Moetaz al-Maysour told AFP, adding that “masked men started the fire.” Yemen’s population is 99 per cent Muslim. Of the 22 churches that operated in Aden when the city was a British colony before 1967, only a few remain open, used rarely by foreign workers and African refugees.

Al-Qaeda militants have been accused of several attacks since pro-government forces pushed Iran-backed rebels out of the battle-scarred city in July with support from a Saudi-led coalition. The jihadist network’s Yemen branch, regarded by Washington as its deadliest, has exploited the fighting to boost its presence in swathes of the south and east.

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