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Houthis' rocket attack on Aden kills 20 civilians

Updated: 2015-07-02 07:51
By Agence France-Presse in Sanaa (China Daily)

A Houthi Shiite rebel attack on a residential district in Yemen's second-largest city, Aden, killed at least 20 civilians on Wednesday as loyalist forces in Taez launched a manhunt for 1,200 escaped prisoners.

Both cities have seen heavy fighting as loyalists of exiled president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi battled to repel Houthis with the support of a Saudi-led bombing campaign.

Aden was Hadi's last refuge before he fled into exile in neighboring Saudi Arabia in March, and his loyalists have been battling to defend it against the rebels and renegade troops.

The Houthis and their allies pounded the loyalist-held Al-Mansura district with 15 rockets, loyalist forces spokesman Ali al-Ahmadi said.

The rocket fire began before dawn when the streets were busy ahead of the daytime fast observed by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan, Ahmadi said.

A salvo of rockets later in the morning hit mourners burying some of the dead who were victims of the earlier fire, al-Ahmadi and witnesses said.

Medics said 41 people were also wounded, many of them seriously.

Series of airstrikes

During the night, rebel positions in the nearby neighborhoods of Dar Saad and Khor Maksar were hit by a series of Saudi-led airstrikes, residents said.

A coalition strike in neighboring Lahj province killed 13 rebels, a local official said.

The air war has come under mounting international criticism. On Monday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for an investigation after airstrikes hit the UN Development Programme compound in Aden, wounding a guard and causing considerable damage.

In Taez, Yemen's third-biggest city, loyalist forces were searching for 1,200 inmates, including al-Qaida members, who made a mass breakout as the prison was taken from rebel forces.

A loyalist source accused the rebels of deliberately throwing open the gates in an apparent attempt to cover their withdrawal.

"Between five and eight al-Qaida members were among the prisoners," a military source said.

There have been repeated jailbreaks in Yemen since the Houthi rebels launched an offensive last summer, overrunning the capital and then much of the rest of the country.

Al-Qaida's Yemen arm took advantage of the rebellion to seize the southeastern port city of Mukalla in April, where it freed more than 300 inmates, including one of its leaders.

Washington regards al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula as the network's most dangerous branch and has kept up a drone war against its leaders.

But the Islamic State, too, has exploited the conflict to enter the fray in recent months, carrying out a string of deadly attacks against Shiite targets since March.

An attack claimed by the Sunni extremist group on Houthi leaders in the rebel-held capital Sanaa killed at least 28 people on Monday, medics said.

Houthis' rocket attack on Aden kills 20 civilians

(China Daily 07/02/2015 page11)

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