Dozens killed in battle for western Yemeni city of Taiz

AP News
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Posted: Oct 23, 2015 1:19 PM

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Heavy fighting between Yemeni pro-government forces and Shiite Houthi rebels besieging the western city of Taiz has killed 76 people since Wednesday, Yemeni security officials said Friday.

Of those killed, 11 were civilians and the rest were fighters from both sides. Another 100 people have been wounded in fighting in the city, where a Saudi-led coalition is carrying out airstrikes against the rebels.

Yemen's fighting pits the Houthis and allied army units against forces loyal to the internationally recognized government as well as southern separatists and other militants. The U.N. says at least 2,577 civilians were killed since the Saudi-led air campaign began in March, while 5,078 have been injured.

The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a Friday statement that checkpoints run by fighters affiliated with the Houthis are exacerbating "the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation" in Taiz. They are limiting the movement of civilians and blocking supply routes from the capital Sanaa, the port city of Aden and other parts of Yemen, the U.N. said.

Civilians and traders are being stopped from transporting essential goods into Taiz, including water, fruit and vegetables, the U.N. said, adding that the price of water has soared by 300 percent in the past week. The health system in Taiz is at "near collapse" and small private hospitals "have been overwhelmed with casualties by the fighting," the U.N. said.

Also Friday, coalition airstrikes hit a Houthi-held security administration building in the central Ibb province, killing at least seven rebels and destroying weapon supplies, security officials there said. In Bayda province, six Houthis were killed in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition that hit a rebel camp, according to security officials and witnesses who declined to be named.

In Shabwa province, five Houthi and allied forces were killed in a coalition airstrike in the city of Bihan, according to security officials and witnesses. Three civilians were killed by shrapnel from the airstrike, they said.

Three civilians near the houses of Houthi leaders in the Bani Hashish region north of Sanaa were killed when the buildings were hit by coalition airstrikes, according to security officials and witnesses. In Sanaa, an unidentified number of Houthis were killed in coalition airstrikes, according to security officials and witnesses.

The United Arab Emirates on Friday announced the death of a soldier wounded in fighting in September in Yemen's Marib province. The soldier died while receiving medical care at a hospital in Germany, the state-run WAM news agency reported.

All officials that spoke to the AP remain neutral in the conflict that has splintered Yemen's armed forces. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief reporters while the witnesses feared reprisals.