Yemen's Aden governor killed in car bombing claimed by ISIS

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(Reuters) -- The governor of Aden was killed in a car bomb attack on Sunday claimed by Islamic State in Yemen's southern port city, where President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has returned to oversee a war against Iran-allied Houthis.

A local official and residents said at least six members of General Jaafar Mohammed Saad's entourage also died in the attack, which targeted the governor as he was headed to work. Several other people were wounded.

Islamic State, in a statement posted on a messaging service it uses, said it detonated a car laden with explosives aimed at Saad's convoy in Aden's Tawahi district and promised more operations against "the heads of apostasy in Yemen". A local official and residents said earlier on Sunday a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into the governor's car.

The group's local branch has stepped up operations since the outbreak of civil war in Yemen, emerging as a forceful rival to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the main militant group in the country in recent years.

It has launched spectacular attacks on security bases and on mosques run by Houthi forces who control the capital, Sanaa. The Houthis, who follow the Zaydi branch of Shi'ite Islam, have been fighting a coalition of mainly Gulf Arab forces, which began air strikes against them in March.

The attack came one day after assailants killed a senior army officer and a judge who had presided over the trial of militants suspected in the bombing of the U.S. warship USS Cole in Aden in 2000, in two separate attacks in the city.

In October, four suicide bombers detonated car bombs at a temporary Yemeni government headquarters and two Arab coalition outposts, killing more than a dozen people.

"Foot-dragging in implementing security measures paves the way for hardliners to carry out such attacks," said Ashraf Ali Mahmoud, a local activist.

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NTP: Kurdish Iraqis enter Sinjar in push to oust ISIS fighters
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Yemen's Aden governor killed in car bombing claimed by ISIS
MT. SINJAR, NOVEMBER 12: A member of a Kurdish special forces regiment watches from a hilltop as US-led coalition airstrike targets a Islamic State position while a large convoy of Kurdish peshmerga forces drives to Sinjar city during a major offensive to expel Islamic State militants. (Alice Martins/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
A Kurdish peshmerga fighter pauses during an operation to retake the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015. Kurdish Iraqi fighters, backed by the U.S.-led air campaign, launched an assault Thursday aiming to retake the strategic town of Sinjar, which the Islamic State overran last year in an onslaught that caused the flight of tens of thousands of Yazidis and first prompted the U.S. to launch airstrikes against the militants. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
Smoke rises over Sinjar, northern Iraq from oil fires set by Islamic State militants as Kurdish Iraqi fighters, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, launch a major assault on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015. The strategic town of Sinjar was overran last year by the Islamic State group in an onslaught that caused the flight of tens of thousands of Yazidis and first prompted the United States to launch the air campaign against the militants. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
MT. SINJAR, NOVEMBER 12: Peshmerga forces walk towards a gathering point ahead of a major offensive launched today to expel Islamic State militants from Sinjar, Iraq. (Alice Martins/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
A Kurdish fighter, known as a peshmerga, lies underneath a blanket, overlooking the town of Sinjar, Iraq, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Officials with the Iraqi Kurdish militia said they are preparing to push their large-scale military operation into the center of Sinjar, the strategic mountain town in northern Iraq currently in the hands of the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
MT. SINJAR, NOVEMBER 12: Members of a Kurdish special forces stand on a hilltop as a major offensive to take control of Sinjar city is underway. (Alice Martins/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Kurdish fighters watch in the early morning as they fight against the Islamic State group in Sinjar, Iraq, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Officials with the Iraqi Kurdish militia said they are preparing to push their large-scale military operation into the center of Sinjar, the strategic mountain town in northern Iraq currently in the hands of the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
Smoke believed to be from an airstrike billows over the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015. Kurdish Iraqi fighters, backed by the U.S.-led air campaign, launched an assault Thursday aiming to retake the strategic town of Sinjar, which the Islamic State overran last year in an onslaught that caused the flight of tens of thousands of Yazidis and first prompted the U.S. to launch airstrikes against the militants. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
Iraqi Kurdish forces take part in an operation backed by US-led strikes in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, Mosul province, on November 12, 2015, to retake the town from the Islamic State group and cut a key supply line to Syria. The autonomous Kurdish region's security council said up to 7,500 Kurdish fighters would take part in the operation, which aims to retake Sinjar 'and establish a significant buffer zone to protect the (town) and its inhabitants from incoming artillery.' AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED (Photo credit should read SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)
MT. SINJAR, NOVEMBER 12: Peshmerga forces walk towards a gathering point ahead of a major offensive launched today to expel Islamic State militants from Sinjar, Iraq. (Alice Martins/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MT. SINJAR, NOVEMBER 12: A peshmerga soldier smokes a cigarette in front of a wall decorated with weapons and spray-painted with the phrase 'Long Live the Peshmerga' by mount Sinjar, Iraq. (Alice Martins/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Kurdish forces sit at a post with the Kurdish flag as they prepare for battling the Islamic State group on the frontline in Sinjar to liberate the northern Iraqi town Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Officials with the Iraqi Kurdish militia said they are preparing to push their large-scale military operation into the center of Sinjar, the strategic mountain town in northern Iraq currently in the hands of the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
Smoke believed to be from an airstrike billows over the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015. Kurdish Iraqi fighters, backed by the U.S.-led air campaign, launched an assault Thursday aiming to retake the strategic town of Sinjar, which the Islamic State overran last year in an onslaught that caused the flight of tens of thousands of Yazidis and first prompted the U.S. to launch airstrikes against the militants. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
A Kurdish fighter, known as a peshmerga, yawns as he stands guard on the frontline in Sinjar, Iraq, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Officials with the Iraqi Kurdish militia said they are preparing to push their large-scale military operation into the center of Sinjar, the strategic mountain town in northern Iraq currently in the hands of the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
MT. SINJAR, NOVEMBER 12: Smoke from a US-led coalition airtrike billows above Sinjar city as a major offensive launched today to expel Islamic State militants from the Iraqi city is underway. (Alice Martins/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Smoke rises over Sinjar, northern Iraq from oil fires set by Islamic State militants as Kurdish Iraqi fighters, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, launch a major assault on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015. The strategic town of Sinjar was overran last year by the Islamic State group in an onslaught that caused the flight of tens of thousands of Yazidis and first prompted the United States to launch the air campaign against the militants. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
A Kurdish force stands guard at a post as the sun rises on the frontline with the Islamic State group in Sinjar, Iraq, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Officials with the Iraqi Kurdish militia said they are preparing to push their large-scale military operation into the center of Sinjar, the strategic mountain town in northern Iraq currently in the hands of the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
A displaced Iraqi man from the Yazidi community, who fled violence between Islamic State (IS) group jihadists and Peshmerga fighters in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, in the northern Iraqi province of Mosul, looks on as smoke billows during an operation by Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by US-led strikes in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar on November 12, 2015, to retake the town from the Islamic State group and cut a key supply line to Syria. AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED (Photo credit should read SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)
The frontline between the Kurdish forces with coalition partners and the Islamic States group is seen in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Officials with the Iraqi Kurdish militia said they are preparing to push their large-scale military operation into the center of Sinjar, the strategic mountain town in northern Iraq currently in the hands of the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
MOSUL, IRAQ - NOVEMBER 12: Smoke rises after the Peshmerga forces belonging to the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) attack the Sinjar town of Mosul, Iraq during an operation carried out to clear the region from Daesh terrorists on November 12, 2015. (Photo by Yunus Keles/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Heavy smoke covers the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar during an operation by Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by US-led strikes on November 12, 2015, to retake the town from the Islamic State group and cut a key supply line to Syria. The autonomous Kurdish region's security council said up to 7,500 Kurdish fighters would take part in the operation, which aims to retake Sinjar 'and establish a significant buffer zone to protect the (town) and its inhabitants from incoming artillery.' AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED (Photo credit should read SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)
A Kurdish peshmerga fighter stands guard in fighting against the Islamic State group as the sun rises in Sinjar, Iraq, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Officials with the Iraqi Kurdish militia said they are preparing to push their large-scale military operation into the center of Sinjar, the strategic mountain town in northern Iraq currently in the hands of the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
Kurdish peshmerga fighters fire into the the air while celebrating the retaking of of Sinjar, northern Iraq, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. Iraqi Kurdish militias battling to take back Sinjar from Islamic State militants raised a Kurdish flag and fired off celebratory gunfire in the center of town, though U.S. and Kurdish officials cautioned that it was too soon to declare victory in a major offensive to retake the strategic community.(AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
Kurdish peshmerga fighters enter the town of Sinjar on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 after they took it from the Islamic State group in a joint operation with the coalition forces. Iraqi Kurdish militias battling to take back Sinjar from Islamic State militants raised a Kurdish flag and fired off celebratory gunfire in the center of town, though U.S. and Kurdish officials cautioned that it was too soon to declare victory in a major offensive to retake the strategic community.(AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
A Kurdish peshmerga fighter stands next to a destroyed building inside the town of Sinjar, northern Iraq, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Iraqi Kurdish militias battling to take back Sinjar from Islamic State militants raised a Kurdish flag and fired off celebratory gunfire in the center of town, though U.S. and Kurdish officials cautioned that it was too soon to declare victory in a major offensive to retake the strategic community.(AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
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Sunday's explosion could be heard about 10 km (seven miles) away, residents said. Photos posted by local news websites showed a car in flames with a plume of smoke rising from it.

The victims were taken to the Jumhouriya Hospital, the main state medical facility in Aden which Saad had re-opened in a ceremony two days earlier.

Security had been a main concern for Hadi and his Arab allies since he returned to Aden last month to oversee an offensive by his forces and Arab allies to drive the Houthis from the strategic city of Taiz.

In October, the government of Prime Minister Khaled Bahah was forced to relocate to Saudi Arabia after four coordinated suicide bombings by Islamic state killed at least 15 people, including four Emirati soldiers.

Saad had been a general in the army of the former southern Yemen before the Marxist state merged with northern Yemen in 1990. He was appointed governor in October.

Local officials said Saad, who fought in the 1994 civil war for southern forces against the northerners, had lived in exile in Egypt and Britain before he returned earlier this year at Hadi's request.

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