Yemen's Houthi rebels kill woman in front of her children

A relative said rebel fighters were looking for the woman's husband, suspected of fighting for pro-government forces

Security forces loyal to the Huthi rebels walk while on duty during a mass wedding for thousands of couples including the poor, handicapped, and wounded, in Yemen's Huthi-held capital Sanaa on December 9, 2020.  / AFP / Mohammed HUWAIS
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A 25-year-old woman was beaten to death in front of her two children by Houthi rebels in Yemen's Ibb province, a family member said.

Houthi militia members raided the house of Ahlam Al Ashary late on Thursday looking for her husband, the family member said. When they did not find him they kicked Al Ashary and beat her with sticks and the backs of their pistols until she died, said the relative, who refused to be named for fear of reprisals.

The militants were searching for Al Ashary's husband for his alleged ties to rival forces loyal to the internationally recognised government, the relative said.

The attack took place in a rural area of rebel-controlled Ibb province, where most residents have resisted Houthi rule. Photos of Al Ashari’s children hugging her coffin have circulated on social media outlets and anti-Houthi Yemeni news websites.

The Associated Press reached out to four Houthi officials but all declined to comment.

Yemeni Information Minister Muammar Al Iryani called the killing “an outrageous terror crime” that attests to “the barbarism of Houthi militias”.

Ibb borders the contested provinces of Hodeidah to the west and Taez to the south-west, where the rebels have also been accused of attacks on on civilians.

The United States recently placed sanctions on five senior Houthi members over human rights abuses in Yemen.

Sultan Zabin, head of the rebels' Criminal Investigation Department, detained and tortured female political activists opposed to the Houthis “under the pretence of a policy designed to curb prostitution and organised crime", the US Treasury Department said

Another official, Qader Al Shami, former director of the Houthis’ Political Security Organisation, was designated for the “illegal detention and torture of prisoners, including children".

The conflict in Yemen erupted in 2014 when the Iran-backed rebels overran the country's northern parts and the capital Sanaa, forcing the government to flee to the south. Since 2015, the Houthis have been fighting a Saudi-led military coalition that is supporting forces loyal to the government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.