Yemen's Houthi rebels attack food factory in Hodeidah

Shelling killed one worker at the plant and halted production

FILE PHOTO: Houthi militants ride on the back of a truck as they withdraw, part of a U.N.-sponsored peace agreement signed in Sweden, from the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, Yemen December 29, 2018. REUTERS/Abduljabbar Zeyad/File Photo
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One person died and several were injured when Yemen’s Houthi rebels shelled a food processing complex and residential areas of Hodeidah city on Saturday.

Operations at the Thabet Brothers plant in east Hodeidah halted because of the damage caused by the shelling, Col Wathah Al Dubaish, a spokesman for pro-government forces in Hodeidah, told The National.

One employee, Mohamed Naser Wanis, 47, died and several co-workers were injured, Col Al Dubaish said.

The plant processes milk and dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt, as well as fruit juices.

"The Houthis targeted one of the vital service providers in Hodeidah. The shelling came as the management was completing maintenance work on the facility, which was the target of many similar Houthi attacks last year," he said.

The rebels also shelled residential areas on Sanaa Street and Al Khamseen Street in eastern Hodeidah, residents told The National. More than five mortar shells landed near homes on Al Khamseen Street.

“They fired randomly at the neighbourhood where I live with my family, causing tremendous fear among the women and children," said Umm Moad, a resident of Al Khamseen Street who asked not to be identified by her real name.

She said the area had been attacked repeatedly since government forces regained control there last year.

The continued attacks by the rebels come despite UN-led efforts to implement a ceasefire agreed by the rebels and government at talks in Sweden last December. Representatives from both sides said they were keen to reduce hostilities following two days of talks on board a UN ship off Hodeidah earlier this month.

The chief of the UN ceasefire monitoring mission in Hodeidah, General Michael Lollesgaard of Denmark, left on Wednesday after completing his six-month tenure and his replacement has not yet been named.

Col Al Dubaish said three people who were offered the job, which involves chairing the Redeployment and Co-ordination Committee comprising rebel and government representatives, had turned it down.

“Two Danes and a Swede were nominated to replace Lollesgaard but none agreed to come to Yemen because they all believe that the task is not easy. But naming a successor for Gen Lollesgaard is really important and should happen next week," he said.

Meanwhile, heavy rain and winds in south-east Yemen left six people dead and at least five missing in the provinces of Shabwah and Abyan on Saturday.

Four of the deaths were in Shabwah, where the torrential rains caused heavy flooding and damage to infrastructure, especially in the district of Markhah.