Ex­plo­sions from airstrikes rock Ye­meni cap­i­tal

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY AH­MEN AL-HAJ

Saudi-led airstrikes on weapons caches in Ye­men’s rebel-held cap­i­tal on Mon­day caused mas­sive ex­plo­sions that shat­tered win­dows, sent res­i­dents scram­bling for shel­ter and killed a lo­cal TV pre­sen­ter.

A TV sta­tion run by the rebels in Sanaa said 15 peo­ple were killed and dozens wounded in the bomb­ing but those fig­ures could not im­me­di­ately be con­firmed.

The ex­plo­sions were the most pow­er­ful seen in the city since a Saudi-led air cam­paign against Iran-al­lied Shi­ite rebels, known as Houthis, be­gan last month. The blasts de­posited a layer of soot on the top floors of res­i­den­tial build­ings in Sanaa and left the streets lit­tered with glass. Anti-air­craft fire rat­tled across the city in re­sponse.

Mush­room clouds rose over Fag Atan, in the moun­tain­ous out­skirts of Sanaa, where the cap­i­tal’s largest weapons caches are lo­cated. The site has been tar­geted sev­eral times in the Saudi-led air cam­paign, now in its fourth week.

A Ye­meni of­fi­cial said the Saudiled war­planes are de­mol­ish­ing parts of the moun­tain, hop­ing to un­cover and de­stroy Scud mis­siles. The of­fi­cial spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to speak to the me­dia.

Some 6 kilo­me­ters (4 miles) away from Fag Atan, cars were dam­aged and charred, shop fronts were shat­tered and the win­dows were blown out of of­fice build­ings.

The Houthis’ TV net­work alMasirah said that 15 died and that Mo­hammed Sham­san, a TV pre­sen­ter for an­other net­work, was among those killed. It said mem­bers of his crew were wounded. Am­bu­lances were rush­ing to the site of the ex­plo­sions, and al-Masirah aired a state­ment by health au­thor­i­ties call­ing on cit­i­zens to do­nate blood.

Res­i­dents posted videos and pic­tures of the ex­plo­sions, and the dam­age they had caused, on so­cial me­dia.

“The hang­ing ceil­ing and chan­de­lier fell be­cause of the ex­plo­sions,” res­i­dent Mo­hammed Mohsen said.

Saudi Ara­bia and sev­eral of its al­lies, mainly Gulf Arab coun­tries, launched the airstrikes on March 26, hop­ing to roll back the rebels, who seized Sanaa in Septem­ber and have over­run large parts of the coun­try with the help of se­cu­rity forces loyal to for­mer Pres­i­dent Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh.

West­ern gov­ern­ments and Sunni Arab coun­tries say the Houthis get arms from Iran. Iran and the rebels deny that, though the Is­lamic repub­lic has pro­vided po­lit­i­cal and hu­man­i­tar­ian sup­port to the group.

‘Great Ye­men peo­ple will never be

sub­ju­gated’: Rebel Leader

Rebel leader Ab­dul-Malek alHouthi struck a de­fi­ant tone on Sun­day, say­ing that “the great Ye­meni peo­ple will never sur­ren­der and never be sub­ju­gated.”

Fight­ing mean­while in­ten­si­fied in the south­ern port city of Aden, where the Houthis and Saleh loy­al­ists are bat­tling youth mili­tias and forces loyal to Pres­i­dent Abed Rabbo Man­sour Hadi, who fled the coun­try last month in the face of the Houthi ad­vance.

The Houthis and their al­lies have been try­ing to take over Aden for weeks. On Mon­day, heavy fight­ing erupted near the air­port and in the cen­tral al-Ar­ish dis­trict be­tween the rebels and lo­cal armed groups formed by res­i­dents to de­fend their neigh­bor­hoods, wit­nesses said.

Airstrikes tar­geted a ho­tel in Aden sus­pected of be­ing used by the Houthis and al­lied forces. There was no word on ca­su­al­ties.

In re­marks pub­lished in his news­pa­per Ye­men To­day, the ousted Saleh de­nied strik­ing an al­liance with the Houthis or that the rebels are in full con­trol of the army.

“We dis­cussed the al­liance af­ter the Saudi as­sault on our coun­try, and it has not ma­te­ri­al­ized so far,” Saleh said.

He also pledged to “be pos­i­tive” in deal­ing with a U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion adopted last Tues­day call­ing on Ye­men’s ri­vals to end the vi­o­lence and re­turn to U.N.-led peace talks.

The Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion makes no men­tion of the Saudiled airstrikes but im­poses an arms em­bargo on three lead­ers of the Shi­ite rebel group, as well as on Saleh and his son. It also de­mands that the Houthis with­draw from ar­eas they have seized, in­clud­ing Sanaa, and re­lin­quish arms and mis­siles seized from mil­i­tary and se­cu­rity in­sti­tu­tions.

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