MIDDLE EAST

Airstrikes in Yemen kill dozens as U.N. meets on crisis

and Contact Reporter
Dozens of people, at least some of them civilians, killed as Saudi-led airstrikes pummel Yemen

Saudi-led airstrikes pummeled Yemen’s capital and the southern seaport of Aden on Friday, killing several dozen people, at least some of them civilians, medical officials and witnesses said, as cease-fire calls from the United Nations and others went unheeded.

The new round of bombardment came hours after an overnight attack by Shiite Muslim insurgents on a frontier post that killed three Saudi troops, according to a Saudi announcement. It said dozens of Houthi rebels died in the attack, the most significant strike in the border zone since the start of the Saudi-led offensive more than five weeks ago.

The World Health Organization says the death toll in Yemen has topped 1,200, many of them civilians, and aid groups say shortages of food and fuel have reached crisis proportions in many areas. Many people spend the night in long lines at gas stations.

The U.N. Security Council was holding an emergency session Friday on the conflict, which has displaced about 300,000 people and wrecked much of the country’s infrastructure, causing power outages and denying many people access to clean water. Some humanitarian groups say a lack of fuel has severely curtailed on-the-ground aid operations.

Heavy clashes have been taking place in Aden, which was once the country’s center of commerce, with street battles raging even as airstrikes rained down on Houthi positions. The latest bombing and clashes killed at least 47 people, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported.

In Sana, airstrikes aimed at Houthi weapons depots and bases have been killing and injuring civilians in growing numbers. About 20 people, including 10 women and two children, were killed in a bombardment apparently aimed at a Houthi commander’s home, witnesses said.

Heavy bombardment also has been hitting the southwestern city of Taiz, on the road between Aden and Sana.

The Saudi offensive was launched when the Houthi advance on Aden forced President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to flee, taking shelter in Saudi Arabia. The Houthis had taken Sana in September and placed Hadi under house arrest. He escaped to Aden early this year.

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For the Record

May 1, 5:30 p.m.: Earlier versions of this article incorrectly stated that Hadi left Sana last year. He fled the city early this year.

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The government-in-exile invited the Saudi intervention, which has caused fury among a population struggling to meet the most basic needs while under bombardment. At angry street demonstrations, including one on Friday, people shouted denunciations of not only Saudi Arabia but the United States, which is providing logistical and other support to the Saudi-led coalition.

The Houthis, who have long complained of being marginalized in Sunni Muslim-dominated Yemen, launched their offensive last year and have captured large parts of the country. They are backed by elements of the military loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was driven from power in 2012, and have been battling regular troops and militias loyal to Hadi.

Shiite Iran has denounced the Saudi air campaign, and Friday prayers in Iran brought a burst of furious rhetoric from mosque pulpits denouncing Saudi “crimes.”

Special correspondent Al-Alayaa reported from Sana and staff writer King from Cairo. Special correspondent Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran contributed to this report.

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