UN agency says at least 74 chil­dren killed in Ye­men fight­ing

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY AHMED AL-HAJ

Saudi-led coali­tion jets bombed a mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tion in south­ern Ye­men Tues­day as lo­cal tribes bat­tled with forces loyal to the Shi­ite rebels in the area, forc­ing them out and seiz­ing their makeshift camp and weapons, mil­i­tary of­fi­cials said.

The fight­ing in Ibb comes as the U.N. chil­dren’s wel­fare agency warned that more than 100,000 peo­ple have fled their homes in dif­fer­ent prov­inces in Ye­men seek­ing safety from the vi­o­lence. Ac­cord­ing to UNICEF, at least 74 chil­dren have also been killed since the fight­ing be­tween Ye­meni ri­vals in­ten­si­fied and the coali­tion airstrike cam­paign be­gan two weeks ago.

A med­i­cal vol­un­teer in the May­tam dis­trict in south­ern Ibb prov­ince said the airstrike on a Repub­li­can Guards camp left at least 25 mil­i­tary men wounded. The mil­i­tary unit is loyal to ousted Pres­i­dent Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh, who is al­lied with the Shi­ite rebels in their bid to grab power in Ye­men.

Res­i­dents say the camp was close to a school. The rebel tele­vi­sion sta­tion, known as al-Masirah, said three chil­dren were killed in the airstrike. The med­i­cal vol­un­teer, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity for fear of reprisal, could not ver­ify the deaths.

About 50 kilo­me­ters ( 30 miles) south of the camp, lo­cal tribes bat­tled with rebel fighters who had set up a makeshift camp in the area, driv­ing the rebels away and seiz­ing their weapons, a lo­cal res­i­dent said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

Civil­ians have paid a heavy toll for the vi­o­lence that mush­roomed from an in­ter­nal power strug­gle into a re­gional war drawing in neigh­bor­ing Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies.

Chil­dren have been es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble, said UNICEF’s Ye­men rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Julien Harneis.

“They are be­ing killed, maimed and forced to flee their homes, their health threat­ened and their ed­u­ca­tion in­ter­rupted,” Harneis said in a state­ment, re­leased Mon­day in Am­man, Jor­dan. War­ring fac­tions have also in­creased their re­cruit­ment of chil­dren un­der the age of 18.

The agency said at least 74 chil­dren have been killed and 44 wounded since March 26, when the Saudi-led air cam­paign be­gan.

Last week, the U.N. said more than 500 civil­ians have been killed in the last two weeks. Com­pre­hen­sive casualty fig­ures are dif­fi­cult to col­lect and ver­ify be­cause of the on­go­ing vi­o­lence.

AP

In this Satur­day, April 4 file photo, Ye­me­nis stand amid the rub­ble of houses de­stroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes in a vil­lage near Sanaa, Ye­men.

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