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Strike on Yemen's Marib kills 14 civilians

  • Published at 04:41 am June 6th, 2021
Yemeni government fighter
File photo: A Yemeni government fighter fires a vehicle-mounted weapon at a frontline position during fighting against Houthi fighters in Marib, Yemen March 9, 2021 Reuters

Heavy battles between the Iran-backed Houthis and forces of the internationally recognized government have exacerbated the Yemen conflict

A strike killed 14 civilians on Saturday at a petrol station in the Yemeni city of Marib, the government's last northern stronghold, state media said, blaming rebels for the attack.

"The Houthi militias targeted the petrol station where dozens of cars were waiting to fill up, sparking a huge fire in which 14 civilians perished, including a little girl," the Saba news agency said, adding that five people were wounded including a child.

It said a "ballistic missile and a booby-trapped drone" were used in the attack.

A medic in Marib confirmed the toll reported by Saba.

A resident meanwhile told AFP that the petrol station is located near an open-air market and a camp for displaced people, while another resident said that a government military base is also nearby.

Yemeni Information Minister Mouammar al-Eryani denounced the attack on Twitter, calling it a "heinous terrorist crime which amounts to a war crime."

The Houthis rebels launched a fierce offensive in February to seize Marib and its surrounding oil fields -- the last significant pocket of government-held territory in the north.

Heavy battles between the Iran-backed Houthis and forces of the internationally recognised government have exacerbated the Yemen conflict, which the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The attack came as a diplomatic push to secure a ceasefire in Yemen's long war intensifies.

On Saturday an Omani delegation, accompanied by senior Houthi figures, arrived in the rebel-held capital Sanaa to try to convince the Houthis to accept a ceasefire and join the peace efforts, Houthi sources said.

Marib, which lies east of Sanaa, had witnessed relative stability since the war erupted in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital, becoming a safe haven for hundreds of thousands who fled frontline fighting.

But the escalation of hostilities has displaced thousands in Marib this year, according to the UN refugee agency.

Marib's loss to the Houthis would be a major blow for Yemen's government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and could unleash a humanitarian disaster for the region's civilians.

In late May the United States announced sanctions against two Houthi commanders who are leading the Marib offensive.

Yemen's years-long conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed millions to the brink of famine.

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