SANAA: The death toll from a missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on a government military camp climbed to at least 111 troops, a military spokesman said on Monday, making it one of the deadliest rebel assaults since the beginning of the country’s bloody civil war.
Ballistic missiles smashed into a mosque in the training camp in the central province of Marib over the weekend, wounding at least 68 other troops, said Abdu Abdullah Magli, spokesman for the Yemeni armed forces.
The oil-rich province of Marib is about 115 kilometres east of the Houthi-controlled capital, Sanaa. The attack came amid a barrage of assaults by Saudi-backed government forces on rebel targets east of the capital.
In recent months, Saudi Arabia started backchannel negotiations with the Houthis in the neighbouring country of Oman, after the rebels claimed an attack on Saudi oil infrastructure that threatened global oil supplies. The United States blamed the attack on Iran, which denied involvement.
Yemen’s civil war erupted in 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized Sanaa, and much of the country’s north, ousting the internationally recognised government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
The Saudi-led coalition launched its campaign in 2015 to drive out the Houthis and restore the government of Hadi, now exiled in Saudi Arabia.
The grinding war in the Arab world’s poorest country has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced over 3 million and pushed the country to the brink of famine.
Both sides in Yemen’s war have been accused of war crimes and rampant human rights abuses. Saudi-led coalition air strikes and rebel shelling have drawn widespread international criticism for killing civilians and hitting non-military targets.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, key players in the military coalition, condemned the missile attack.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry on Monday condemned the attack, saying that such heinous, terrorist crimes deliberately undermine the path to a political solution in the Yemeni conflict, according to the kingdom’s official news agency.
“Saudi Arabia strongly condemns the terrorist attack carried out by the Houthi militia,” the kingdom’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The assault “reflects this terrorist militia’s disregard for sacred places and … for Yemeni blood”.
The United Arab Emirates also condemned the “criminal” attack, saying that it “rejects all forms of violence that target security and stability”.
The Houthis did not make any immediate claim of responsibility for the strike.