Yemen rebels kill two civilians in attack on Hodeidah health centre

Iran-backed Houthis damage another health centre in mortar attack last week

FILE PHOTO: Houthi militants ride on the back of a truck as they withdraw, as part of a U.N.-sponsored peace agreement signed in Sweden earlier this month, from the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, Yemen December 29, 2018. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad/File Photo
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Shelling by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels killed two civilians and injured several on Sunday in another attack on healthcare centres in Hodeidah, an official in the western province said.

There has been a recent escalation of fighting despite the UN-mediated ceasefire in Hodeidah.

Dawood Kattab, manager of the government's health services in the coastal areas of Hodeidah, said Sunday’s attack on a village near Al Duraihimi followed the shelling last week of a healthcare centre in the south of the province.

“Talal Kuba, 37, and his brother Ahmed, 22, were killed when a Houthi mortar fell on their house next to the healthcare centre in Al Shogaiyrah village on Sunday evening,” Dr Kattab told The National.

“The area was crowded with women and children receiving health care at the time.”

Another house near the centre was also hit but without any casualties.

“The house was destroyed completely but fortunately the shell landed while the whole family was out,” Dr Kattab said.

He said the rebels had repeatedly targeted healthcare centres, which service thousands, since they started the recent escalation in Al Duraihimi and the Hays area in southern Hodeidah.

“Last Wednesday, the Houthi militia pounded the healthcare centre in Al Mandhar area in Al Hawak district in south-east Hodeidah with two mortar shells," Dr Kattab said.

"The attack damaged the facility, which was just reopened after being serviced and supplied with medical equipment by the Emirates Red Crescent."

There was a rapid military by the Houthis in eastern and southern Hodeidah last week.

“The Houthi militia severely violated the ceasefire and launched a large-scale attack attempting to take control over sites controlled by our forces in Al Duraihimi and in the eastern outskirts of Hodeidah port city last week,” said Col Mamoon Al Mahjami, spokesman for Al Amalika Brigades.

Co Al Mahjami said government forces recaptured the post and advanced another 4 kilometres east from the city in a counter-attack on Friday.

Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy to Yemen, has voiced deep concern over the escalation in Hodeidah.

It followed a breakthrough agreement on a prisoner exchange between the two sides, which raised hopes of further progress towards a political solution to the five-year war.

“This military escalation not only constitutes a violation of the Hodeidah ceasefire agreement, but it runs against the spirit of the ongoing UN-facilitated negotiations that aim to achieve a nationwide ceasefire, humanitarian and economic measures and the resumption of the political process," Mr Griffiths said on October 8.

He called on both sides to immediately stop fighting, respect the commitments they made under the Stockholm Agreement and co-operate with the UN mission.