Masked militants yesterday (16. Sep) set ablaze one of the few remaining churches in Aden, Yemen’s southern port city.

The fire, which witnesses told the BBC burned the entire contents of the St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in the city’s Crater neighbourhood, came the day after vandals had broken in and looted the church.

“The church is in flames,” a local resident told AFP. A security official said the unidentified assailants could be Al-Qaeda jihadists, who are accused of several other attacks in Aden since pro-government forces retook the city from Houthi rebels in July.

The church torching came just as Yemen’s Prime Minister and several cabinet ministers arrived back in Aden, after months of exile in Saudi Arabia. A deadly six-month war raging between the Iran-backed Houthis and a Saudi-led coalition backing the ousted Yemen government has killed more than 4,500 people, leaving major cities in shambles and an estimated 6 million on the brink of starvation.

St. Joseph’s was one of a handful of churches attended by expatriate workers and refugees which had remained open in Aden during the heavy ground war and coalition bombings.