Houthis launch drone attack on port of Qena as a warning

Rebels accuse the Yemeni government of 'looting' revenue generated through imports

The Panama-flagged bulk carrier 'ATA-M' moored at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah in western Yemen. AFP
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Houthi rebels targeted the Qena commercial port in southern Yemen on Thursday morning, the government said. No casualties were reported.

"The Houthi militia has committed another terrorist attack by drones targeting Qena commercial port in Shabwa governorate, in a continuation of its terrorist operations and targeting civilian facilities," the foreign ministry said.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said his forces prevented the "looting and smuggling" of oil through the port by sending "warning messages".

Last month, the group made a similar move when targeting a cargo ship at an oil terminal in Mukalla, about 585 kilometres east of the rebel-held capital of Sanaa.

The UK Maritime Trade Operations said after that attack that the vessel and crew were safe.

Thursday's attack was the first such incident since a UN-brokered nationwide truce expired on October 2. The six-month ceasefire brought the first major lull in fighting since Yemen's civil war began with the Iran-backed Houthi militia seizing Sanaa in late 2014.

The rebels accused the government of "intentionally causing delays" to fuel ships at the port of Hodeidah when they rejected UN efforts to extend the truce.

They also claimed that the government was “looting” revenue generated through the imports.

A Yemeni source close to the government told The National the Houthis had begun to flout port procedures and protocols even before they reneged on a 2019 deal to pay civil servants' salaries through revenue from fuel imports.

“The Houthi militia looted the amounts it received through the central bank branch in Hodeidah and refrained from offering any data on the movement of the account or funds according to the provisions of the agreement, creating the successive fuel crisis,” Saba, Yemen's state-owned news outlet, reported at the time.

However, even after the government allowed ships to enter the port under the April ceasefire agreement, the Houthis created another hurdle for incoming ships.

“After the regular entry of oil derivates into the port of Hodeidah for five months, the Houthis prevented traders from submitting their documents directly to the office of the UN envoy in accordance with the agreed mechanism, which led to the accumulation of ships and a crisis in oil derivatives last month,” Saba said.

On Wednesday, Yemeni security forces said they foiled a Houthi drone attack targeting a displacement camp in the government-controlled city of Marib.

"Air defences downed an explosive-laden drone coming from the west of the city towards a displacement camp," a security official said.

Earlier, the government accused the Houthis of setting up explosives on a bridge that connects the besieged city of Taez and Lahj.

Updated: November 10, 2022, 4:13 PM