SANAA, Yemen, Jan 20, (Agencies): The death toll from a missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on a government military camp climbed to at least 111 troops, a military spokesman said Monday, making it one of the deadliest rebel assaults since the beginning of the country’s bloody civil war. Ballistic missiles smashed into a mosque in the training camp in the central province of Marib over the weekend, wounding at least 68 other troops, said Abdu Abdullah Magli, spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces.
The oil-rich province of Marib is about 115 km (70 miles) east of the Houthi-controlled capital, Sanaa. The attack came amid a barrage of assaults by Saudi-backed government forces on rebel targets east of the capital.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry on Monday condemned the attack, saying that “such heinous, terrorist crimes deliberately undermine the path to a political solution” in the Yemeni conflict, according the Kingdom’s official news agency. In recent months, Saudi Arabia started back channel negotiations with the Houthis in the neighboring country of Oman, after the rebels claimed an attack on Saudi oil infrastructure that threatened global oil supplies.
The United States blamed the attack on Iran, which denied involvement. Yemen’s civil war erupted in 2014 when the Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels seized Sanaa, and much of the country’s north, ousting the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The Saudi-led coalition launched its campaign in 2015 to drive out the Houthis and restore the government of Hadi, now exiled in Saudi Arabia.
The grinding war in the Arab world’s poorest country has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced over 3 million and pushed the country to the brink of famine. Both sides in Yemen’s war have been accused of war crimes and rampant human rights abuses.
Saudi-led coalition air strikes and rebel shelling have drawn widespread international criticism for killing civilians and hitting non-military targets. The Arab Parliament Monday condemned, in the strongest terms, the attack launched by the Houthi militia. “This heinous crime is against all laws and human values, and clear violation of a house of worshipping,” Parliament Speaker Meshaal Al-Salami said in a statement.
He called on the United Nations and the UN Security Council to take immediate and urgent measures to hold the Houthi militia accountable for this “heinous, inhuman crime”.
The Arab Parliament renewed its full support and solidarity with Yemen in all its measures to confront this “coup militia.” It also expressed sincere condolences to Yemen president, government and parliament, and to the families of the victims, and wished a speedy recovery for the injured.
Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmad Abul-Gheit also condemned the Houthi militias attack. Billing the attack as a “terrorist act”, Abul-Gheit said in a statement that the attack, which left more than 100 people dead and scores injured, could have been the worst offensive since the outbreak of the Yemeni conflict.
“This, once more, signals the bid of foreign parties to fuel tensions in Yemen in order to shift the attention away from its domestic problems and challenges,” he added. The attack, which came at a delicate time, only aims at undermining the recent relative tranquility in Yemen and hindering earnest moves towards a peaceful solution, he noted. The Arab bloc’s chief undermined that this escalation “only serves the agendas of regional forces that seek to exploit Houthis”.