Yemen rebels kill 31: UN declares highest-level emergency
NEWS DESK (DİHA) - Rebel fire on a residential district of Yemen's second city Aden killed more than 30 civilians on July 1, as the UN declared its highest level humanitarian emergency in the war-torn country.
Meanwhile in the central city of Taez, pro-government forces launched a manhunt for 1,200 escaped prisoners, including Al-Qaeda members, allegedly freed by retreating rebel forces. Both Aden and Taez have seen heavy fighting as loyalists of exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi battle to repel Shiite Huthi rebels with the support of a Saudi-led air war launched in March.
Aden was Hadi's last refuge before he fled into exile in neighbouring Saudi Arabia in March and his supporters have been battling to defend it against the rebels and renegade troops. The Huthis and their allies pounded the government-held Al-Mansura district of Aden with 15 Katyusha rockets, loyalist forces spokesman Ali al-Ahmadi said. The rocket fire began before dawn on July 1 when the streets were busy ahead of the daytime fast observed by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.
A fresh salvo of rockets later in the morning hit mourners burying some of the dead from the earlier fire, the spokesman and witnesses said. The city's health chief Al-Khader Laswar said at least 31 people were killed, including three women and two children, while more than 100 others were wounded.
Civilians were seen carrying bloodied bodies and calling for help as they piled them into vehicles and drove them to hospitals. Overnight, rebel positions in the nearby neighbourhoods of Dar Saad and Khor Maksar were hit by a series of Saudi-led air strikes, said residents. A coalition strike in neighbouring Lahj province killed 13 rebels, an official said.
The United Nations on July 1 declared Yemen a level-three emergency, the highest on its scale, as aid chief Stephen O'Brien held talks to discuss the crisis in the impoverished Arabian peninsula country. Under the emergency plan, the UN will try to reach 11.7 million people most in need. "All agencies agreed to declare the level three for a period of six months," said UN spokesman Farhan Haq. "The health system is facing imminent collapse with the closure of at least 160 health facilities due to insecurity, lack of fuel and supplies."