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Red Cross suspends activity in Yemen's Aden after attack

ICRC staff in Yemen's Aden have been caught up in at least ten violent incidents in two weeks as fighting continues to engulf the port city
Yemeni Red Crescent distribute aid to displaced families in the southern Yemeni city of Aden (AFP)

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Tuesday it had suspended its operations in Yemen's war-ravaged second city of Aden after gunmen stormed its office there.

"Gunmen stormed our sub-delegation in Aden yesterday (Monday) and held our staff at gunpoint," spokeswoman Rima Kamal told AFP. "We have as a result temporarily suspended our operations in Aden."

The assailants stole "cars, cash and equipment," Kamal added.

She said the ICRC had evacuated 14 of its employees from Aden to other provinces.

"They will continue to support our Yemen operation from other locations."

Kamal said the ICRC team in Aden has been caught up in "at least ten such incidents in the last couple of weeks".

"The ICRC calls on all parties on the ground to respect the ICRC's strictly neutral and impartial work and not to obstruct it or prevent it from helping people in need."

Kamal said it was not immediately possible to identify the assailants.

"We are naturally investigating further and trying to piece together various information," she said.

Another ICRC spokesman, Adnan Hizam, said that personnel "were unharmed and are in good health".

"We have suspended our activity in Aden due to the security situation but will soon return to work," he said.

An ICRC statement said that since March the organisation has stepped up its activities in Yemen, and has been providing vital humanitarian support to around a million people in Aden.  

The port city was the scene of months of intense fighting between troops loyal to exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Houthi rebels who overran it in March.

Desperately needed aid has begun to arrive since loyalists recaptured Aden in mid-July, but security remains fragile.

Al-Qaeda militants were accused on Saturday of blowing up a building used by the secret police.

They also set up checkpoints in one district and seized five buildings including an intelligence services facility, a presidential residence and a military hospital, security officials said.

Last week, Aden governor Nayef al-Bakri survived a rocket attack that killed four people and wounded 20 others. The assailants were not identified.