Shiite rebel and their allies shelling in Yemen near Aden kills at least 45

July 20, 2015 1:51 pm

 

 Fighters against Shiite rebels gather at a street in the port city of Aden, . Photo / AP

Shiite rebels and their allies in Yemen randomly shelled a town
outside of Aden after losing control of some the port city’s
neighborhoods, killing at least 45 people and wounding 120, officials
said.
The violence highlighted the bloody chaos of the civil war
gripping the Arab world’s poorest country, which also has been the
target of Saudi-led, U.S.-backed airstrikes since late March.
A
leader with the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, denied shelling Dar
Saad, a town just north of Aden and long home to fighters resisting
their advances. But Yemeni medical officials and a doctor with an
international aid organization said the shelling clearly came from the
north and east of Dar Saad – areas under rebel control.
Aden, the
scene of some of the war’s fiercest ground battles, saw Saudi-backed
troops and fighters seize from the Houthis some of its neighborhoods and
its international airport last week. Sunday’s shelling in Dar Saad
appeared to be a way to both punish those resisting the Houthis, as well
as halt the advance of their opponents.

Yemeni medical and military officials said hundreds of
residents fled Dar Saad amid the shelling as ambulance rushed through
the streets, sirens wailing. They said the shelling killed at least 45
people and wounded 120, all believed to be civilians.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to brief journalists.
Abdu
Mohammed Madrabi, 65, said he was in line outside the post office to
collect his pension when the shells hit, causing chaos. Madrabi, who was
wounded in the neck, back and leg, said many private cars carried the
wounded to hospitals because there weren’t enough ambulances.
The shelling was intense in the neighborhood of Sharqiya, hundreds of meters from the post office.
“It’s
been one shell after the other since the morning,” said Arwa Mohammed, a
resident of Sharqiya locked up in one room with her seven-member family
for safety. “We are feeling the house is going to collapse over our
head.”
Anis Othman, a neighbor of Mohammed, also described a scene of pandemonium.

A Yemeni man carrying his daughter looks at a building destroyed during fighting against Houthi fighters in the port city of Aden, Yemen. Photo / AP
A Yemeni man carrying his daughter looks at a
building destroyed during fighting against Houthi fighters in the port
city of Aden, Yemen. Photo / AP
“Balls of fire are falling over our heads amid the screams
of children and women,” he said. “Why all that shelling? There are no
weapons or fighters here. They (the rebels) want to terrorize us and
drive us out. This is only rancor and hate.”
Zeifullah al-Shami, a
Houthi leader, denied targeting civilians in the shelling, saying his
forces were engaging the rivals on the front lines.
“This is part of the media deception,” he said. “We didn’t kill civilians.”
However,
the rebels had vowed to retaliate after losing ground in Aden. The
rebels now are largely based in Aden’s western neighborhood of Tawahi,
as well as bases east of Aden and in Lahj province, north of the city.
Saudi-backed fighters also are advancing on a military air base in Lahj
province.
Sunday night, anti-Houthi forces linked up in Tawahi
from the north and south at the state television building, a Yemeni
military official said. He claimed anti-Houthi forces fully controlled
the area and said they were searching residences for rebels, some of
whom had fled to nearby mountains.
Witnesses and anti-Houthi
forces said bodies littered the streets. Locals said loudspeakers were
blaring in the streets urging the Houthis to surrender.
In the
city of Taiz, Yemen’s third largest, fighting raged on the ground,
residents said, with a gas facility burning after it was hit. In the
capital, Sanaa, satellite channel Ghazal said Houthi militias had
stormed its building.
The officials spoke on condition of
anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak to journalists, and the
residents declined to be identified for fear of repercussions.
The
fighting in Yemen pits the Houthis and troops loyal to former President
Ali Abdullah Saleh against southern separatists, local and tribal
militias, Sunni Islamic militants and loyalists of exiled President Abed
Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is now based in Saudi Arabia.
The rebels
seized Sanaa in September. Fierce fighting in Aden broke in March,
sparking the Saudi-led airstrikes. More than 3,000 people have been
killed since, including more than 1,400 civilians, according to United
Nations agencies.
The conflict has left 20 million Yemenis
without access to safe drinking water and uprooted more than 1 million
people from their homes, the U.N. has said.
Hassan Boucenine, the
head of Doctors Without Borders in Yemen, called the situation in Dar
Saad “very, very difficult.” He said his medical facilities had received
50 wounded people and 25 corpses.
“There will be more,” he said.

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