Dozens killed in South Yemen clashes

2015-05-16 14:27

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Sanaa - Fierce clashes between rebels and pro-government forces killed dozens across south Yemen on Saturday, threatening to derail a humanitarian ceasefire drawn up to bring vital aid to the war-wracked country.

The five-day truce initiated by a Saudi-led coalition that has bombarded the Iran-backed rebels for more than six weeks expires late on Sunday and Riyadh has already warned it was "ready to act" against any ceasefire violations.

In the latest violence, at least 12 civilians were killed and 51 wounded when the Shi'ite Huthi rebels shelled several neighbourhoods in Yemen's third city of Taez, military and local sources said.

Death toll

The clashes came after overnight fighting killed 26 Huthi rebels and militiamen loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh as well as 14 pro-government forces, military sources said.

The United Nations has expressed deep concern about the civilian death toll from the Saudi-led bombing as well as the humanitarian impact of an air and sea blockade imposed by the coalition.

It says more than 1 500 people have died in the conflict since late March.

Some aid has begun to trickle into Yemen since the pause in fighting, but residents of areas where clashes persist complain they remain without the most basic supplies.

The fighting in Taez overnight forced many to flee to the countryside.

Ceasefire terms

The United Nations has called for the Saudi-led coalition to simplify import inspections after warning that supplies were still blocked.

UN coordinator Johannes van der Klaauw warned that the inspections, introduced under an arms embargo slapped on the Huthi rebels last month, were hampering aid deliveries.

"The arms embargo and its inspection regime results in commercial goods, be it by air or by ship, no longer reaching the country," he said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has accused the Huthis of repeatedly violating ceasefire terms, but the rebels have pledged to honour the truce.

"We are hoping that the Huthis will abide by the terms of the ceasefire and stop their aggressive behaviour if they want the ceasefire to hold," he said.

Read more on:    yemen

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