Eight killed in Houthi strikes on Marib in Yemen

Government says rebels launched two drones and two missiles at northern city

FILE PHOTO: A Yemeni government fighter holds a machine gun bullet belt at a frontline position during fighting against Houthi fighters in Marib, Yemen March 16, 2021. Picture taken March 16, 2021. REUTERS/Ali Owidha/File Photo
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Yemen's Houthi rebels killed at least eight people in drone and missile strikes on the northern city of Marib on Thursday, the government said.

Information Minister Muammar Al Eryani said the rebels launched two ballistic missiles and two armed drones that hit a mosque, a commercial centre and a women's correctional facility.

He put the initial death toll at eight, including women, and said 27 people had been wounded. Medical sources told Reuters that five bodies and more than 15 injured people were taken to hospital.

"This dangerous escalation confirms the terrorist Houthi militia does not understand the language of dialogue and does not believe in peace," Mr Al Eryani said, referring to UN-led mediation efforts.

There was no confirmation of the attack from the Iran-backed rebels, who are trying to seize the gas-rich region that is the internationally recognised government's last stronghold in the north.

An army spokesman earlier told Al Hadath television that the missiles hit a residential area and a commercial market. He said the Houthis launched two drones but that one was brought down and the other exploded in mid-air.

"These are the strongest explosions we have heard in Marib in four years," resident Abdulsalam Ghaleb told Reuters.

Earlier this month at least 17 people were killed in an explosion near a petrol station in Marib. The government blamed it on a Houthi missile, but the group said it hit a military camp.

Yemen has been mired in violence since the Houthis ousted the government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, prompting a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia to intervene months later.

The coalition said on Thursday it destroyed a Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia, the most recent of frequent cross-border attacks.

The United Nations, backed by the United States, is pressing for a ceasefire and for the Houthis to end their offensive in Marib, which hosts about a million people displaced by the war.

The UN describes the situation in Yemen as the world's largest humanitarian crisis.