Dubai: Aden airport is expected to reopen fully for commercial traffic within weeks, Yemen's information minister said, a move that would shore up confidence in the ability of President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi's government to control the volatile city.
The southern port has been gripped by violence since Hadi supporters, backed by coalition forces, seized it from Houthi forces in July. The airport has operated only sporadically since then, amid constant security fears.
The minister, Mohammed Qobati, told Reuters the airport was being guarded by local fighters recently incorporated into a new Yemeni army which Hadi had been rebuilding since July.
"We have done preliminary refurbishment work on the airport from outside, and now we are working on maintenance work inside the terminal," Qobati told Reuters by telephone.
"We expect the work to be completed within weeks and we hope that commercial flights would return then," he added.
The United Nations says nearly 6,000 people have been killed in the fighting, which began after the Houthis advanced on Aden, where Hadi had been based. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced.
Meanwhile, Yemeni militiamen clashed with soldiers guarding the presidential palace in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on Sunday, a local official and residents said, in a rare confrontation between the previously allied forces.
A local official said the attackers, affiliated with a local militia called the Popular Southern Resistance, sought an audience with top officials inside the palace over unpaid medical bills for guards wounded in an attack there last month.
Six guards were killed and several were wounded in the attack on January 28 at the Maashiq palace in the crater district, for which Yemen's branch of IS claimed responsibility.
"They wanted to discuss compensation for those killed and paying the medical bills for the wounded... When the guards blocked them, a gun battle erupted involving light and medium weapons," the official said.
Residents in the area reported several casualties in the fighting but could not give precise figures.
In a separate incident on Sunday, residents said that unidentified gunmen fatally shot a prominent cleric, Abdulrahman Mara'i Al Adeni, while heading for afternoon prayers in an Aden mosque.