Sanaa, Yemen (AFP) – An explosion at a weapons depot in the southern Yemeni province of Abyan on Tuesday killed three people and wounded 18 others, medical officials said.
It was not immediately known what caused the explosion, which occurred in the warehouse located in a popular market in the town of Lodar in the early morning. The city is under the control of forces loyal to the internationally recognized Yemeni government.
Many of the wounded were seriously injured, officials said, adding that they feared the death toll could rise further. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
No one has claimed responsibility for the blast. The depot was used to store weapons and explosives, both of which are usually sold in the market in Lodar.
Yemen has been in a civil war since 2014, when Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, forcing the government to flee. The following year, a Saudi-led coalition entered the war to fight the Houthis and try to restore the government to power.
Despite the relentless air campaign and ground fighting, the war has largely fallen into a stalemate, spawning one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
Over the years of conflict, the poorest country in the Arab world has become awash with small arms that have been smuggled into poorly controlled ports. In May, at least five civilians were killed and 20 injured when a man threw a grenade into a crowded fish market in the southern port city of Aden.