The jihadist group Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attack that killed three southern separatists on Friday in Aden, where they are fighting the army in southern Yemen at war.
The attack killed "members of the cordon of security (…) in the explosion of a motorcycle bomb in the Saad district in Aden", said the propaganda agency of the EI Amaq, referring to a Yemeni separatist force.
The attack came amidst tensions between the United Arab Emirates and Yemeni power, further weakening their alliance against the Houthi rebels.
The UAE is one of the pillars of a Saudi-sponsored military coalition that has been supporting the Yemeni President and Government since 2015 against the Houthis who have captured vast areas of the country's north, including the capital Sanaa.
But since the beginning of August, a new front has opened up in the midst of this war: fighting between government forces and separatists seeking independence from southern Yemen has taken control of Aden.
The government has openly accused the Emirates of helping them militarily, including air raids against its troops.
Aden became the "provisional capital" of power after the Houthis seized Sanaa in 2014.
The separatists said Thursday they took Aden back to the loyalists who controlled it Wednesday. The separatists had conquered it for the first time on August 10th.
On Friday, the UAE confirmed that it had conducted airstrikes against targets in Aden this week, but said it targeted "terrorist militias" and acted in "self-defense".
– Suicide bombings –
Aden experienced two attacks on Friday, one of which claimed the lives of three separatist fighters and was claimed by ISIS. The second one made five wounded among the guards of a separatist military leader who survived.
Separatist forces have stopped in Aden after the attacks, security sources said, saying they want to dismantle "dormant cells" of jihadists.
Residents have reported arrests of soldiers loyal to the government.
"The fight against terrorism" was one of the causes cited by the separatists for taking control of Aden. They had previously accused the government of complicity in two attacks that left 49 dead on August 1 in their ranks.
Abu Dhabi and Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi provided two diametrically opposed versions of recent events.
According to the Emirati diplomacy, government forces that tried to take Aden to the separatists included "elements belonging to terrorist groups" who were targeted by raids from the Emirates.
Abu Dhabi believes that part of Mr. Hadi's army is made up of militants from al-Islah, a Yemeni party considered close to the Muslim Brotherhood to which the Emirates are hostile. The Yemeni Vice President, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, is himself considered to be close to the Islamist movement.
The Emirates version was supported by their Yemeni ally, the head of the Southern Transitional Council (STC – separatist), Aidarous al-Zoubaïdi.
During a press conference in Aden, he said that his men captured among the "attackers" in Aden "terrorists wanted by international justice", without further details.
For his part, Hadi accused in a statement the "rebel militias (separatists)" for having "attacked all state institutions and his military positions in Aden with the support, financing and planning of the Emirates" .
He was referring to the first conquest of Aden by the separatists on August 10th.
– Silence of Ryad –
Exiled to Ryad, Hadi then defended the counterattack of power in Aden Wednesday, seeing an operation to restore the authority of the state, then lamented the intervention of aviation Emirates.
The Yemeni president has called on Ryad to "intervene to stop the UAE's flagrant interference, their support for militia (separatists) and their air raids against the Yemeni armed forces".
Yemen's opposition to increased influence from Iran's regional rival – as a Houthi ally – sees embarrassed silence on Aden clashes and unprecedented dispute among coalition members that she drives.
At the beginning of the violence between separatists and the government, Ryad proposed a dialogue between the two camps in the Saudi city of Jeddah. While the JTS was in favor, the Hadi government demanded a withdrawal of separatists from the positions won in Aden and elsewhere in southern Yemen.
Emirati Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash on Friday defended such a dialogue. "It's a way out of the crisis," he said.