Sudanese officials: 6 troops killed in Yemeni rebel attack

CAIRO (AP) — Officials in Sudan said on Saturday an attack by Yemeni rebels killed six members of a Sudanese paramilitary force that’s been fighting in Yemen.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition that includes the Sudanese forces have fought Yemen’s civil war to a stalemate. The United Arab Emirates and Sudan have been pulling out troops in recent months, though they say they aren’t quitting the Saudi-led alliance.

The officials said that the attack earlier this week targeted a position on the Saudi-Yemen border held by Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or the RSF.

Gen. Mohammed Hamadan Dagalo leads the RSF, which grew out of the notorious Janjaweed militias used by former autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in the Darfur conflict in the early 2000s.

In past years Dagalo, who is a Saudi ally, mobilized thousands of RSF troops to fight in Yemen on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the backbone of the military coalition.

The coalition was formed in 2015 to stem the advance of the Houthi rebels following their 2014 takeover of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa and the northern provinces, pushing out the internationally recognized government.

The Sudanese troops had deployed mainly to Yemen’s border areas with Saudi Arabia to repel any attacks by Houthis on the kingdom.

The officials said the Sudanese troops were patrolling the frontier area on Wednesday when they were attacked by the Houthis. At least three others were wounded in the attack.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

On Wednesday, the United Arab Emirates had said an attack on the Saudi-Yemen border killed one of its soldiers. But it’s unclear if the Sudanese troops were killed in the same attack which took place in Saudi Arabia’s Najran region.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition did not answer calls seeking comment.

The war in Yemen has claimed over 100,000 of lives, thrust millions to the brink of famine and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Saudi Arabia and the Houthis are holding indirect, behind-the-scenes talks to end the devastating five-year war.