Suspected militants blow up abandoned church in Yemen’s Aden
Suspected militants blew up a deserted Catholic church Wednesday in Yemen’s second city Aden, where Islamist militants have gained ground in recent months, security officials and witnesses said.
Four armed men shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) detonated explosives at the church in the Muala residential district of the southern port city.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but a police source said there were suspicions militants from either the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda were behind the destruction of the church.
Residents said the explosion completely destroyed the small church, which was attached to a cemetery and built in the 1950s when Aden was a British protectorate.
Like many other Christian churches in Aden, the building had been abandoned for many years, residents said.
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.
In September, masked arsonists torched the Saint Joseph Catholic church in the central Crater neighborhood of Aden.
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 of the country.