Yemeni officials say Saudi-led airstrike has killed 25
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — An airstrike early on Tuesday by a Saudi-led coalition targeting Shiite rebels in Yemen’s southern province of Taiz killed 25 people — 15 fighters and 10 civilians, security officials said.
The airstrike also wounded eight civilians, the officials said. Most of the victims were shoppers or storekeepers in the area that was hit, a commercial road that lies between two villages.
The Taiz attack came amid an uptick in coalition airstrikes Monday night and early Tuesday, the officials said, adding that the fighting also raged east of the capital, Sanaa. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to reporters.
Yemen’s conflict pits rebels known as Houthis and their allies against the internationally recognized government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition of mainly Arab states. The conflict has killed an estimated 9,000 people and pushed the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine.
Meanwhile, senior military commander Maj. Gen. Farag al-Bohsony said the death toll from a series of attacks Monday night in the southern city of Mukalla rose to 48. He said the attacks, blamed on Yemen’s Islamic State affiliate, also wounded 30 people.
The attacks targeted intelligence offices, army barracks and checkpoints. In one of the attacks, a bomb was concealed in a box of food brought to soldiers at a checkpoint to break their dawn-to-dusk Ramadan fast. In another, a group of militants stormed a police station. Al-Bohsony said the victims included two colonels and three civilians, one of them a child.
The violence came as the government and the Houthis were said to be planning to suspend talks on ending the conflict after failing to reach a breakthrough in two months of negotiations in Kuwait.
Two negotiators representing the Houthis and their allies, and one from the government, said the two sides were drafting a joint statement to announce the talks’ suspension until mid-July.
The announcement came a day after U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon visited Kuwait, where the two sides have been meeting since April, to encourage them to reach a peace deal.
He also called for the release of prisoners, including journalists and other political detainees, as a goodwill gesture ahead of the holiday.
The government has demanded the implementation of a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on the rebels to withdraw from all cities, including Sanaa, and hand over their heavy weapons. The Houthis want to form a unity government prior to any changes on the ground, according to the negotiators.
Late Tuesday, Yemeni officials said a suspected U.S. drone strike in southern Abyan province had killed seven people the previous night, including an al-Qaida leader but also women and children. The officials also spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to reporters.