Saudi-led airstrikes and rebel shelling kills 35 in Yemen

AP News
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Posted: Sep 11, 2015 1:03 PM
Saudi-led airstrikes and rebel shelling kills 35 in Yemen

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Two days of airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition targeting Yemen's Shiite rebels killed seven civilians in the country's capital, Sanaa, independent security and health officials said Friday.

The strikes targeted camps and weapons depots used by the rebels, known as Houthis, which are located near residential areas in the city, the officials said. The death toll included those killed on Friday and Thursday, they said.

In the stricken area, many residents had fled their homes for safer neighborhoods, away from rebel posts, while others have left the rebel-held Sanaa entirely, according to those who stayed behind.

"We've lived a night full of fear," said Ammar Badawy, a resident of western Sonayna neighborhood where the Saudi-led airstrikes hit an air force academy, also controlled by the Houthis.

"The windows and doors in my house came off and were destroyed from the sheer power of the explosions," Badawy said.

Another Sanaa resident, Hoda Saleh, said she, her husband, and their children left their home in al-Nahda neighborhood. They are now staying at a hotel in another area of the Yemeni capital.

Al-Nahda has seen intense airstrikes over the past few days targeting Houthi leaders' homes, weapons depots, and camps.

Yemen has been torn by a ferocious war pitting the Houthis and forces fighting for former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against fighters loyal to exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, as well as southern separatists, local militias and Sunni extremists.

The Houthis took over Sanaa last September, taking control of government buildings there. As the rebels advanced around the country, a Saudi-led coalition launched an airstrikes campaign against them in March.

In the key central Marib province, the Houthis on Friday fired several Katyusha missiles into a residential neighborhood in the provincial capital, also called Marib, killing 25 civilians and wounding others, tribal and independent security officials said.

Pro-government forces control most of the city and large areas of the province. The Houthi-run Saba news agency said the Katyushas targeted and killed al-Qaida and other fighters there.

The pro-government forces say they are looking to take all of Marib, before pushing onto the adjoining Jawf province, which connects Marib to Saada province — the Houthi heartland.

In Taiz, Yemen's third-largest city, Houthi shelling of areas controlled by pro-government forces killed three civilians, independent security and medical officials said.

In the southern port city of Aden, two children were killed Friday when a mine exploded near them, pro-government security officials said.

At least five people were killed this month by mines in Aden, according to the officials. They accuse Houthis of planting these mines before they were pushed out of the city in July.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.