Yemen soldiers killed in Houthi drone attack on base

Yemen soldiers killed in Houthi drone attack on base
Source: BBC
Date: 10-01-2019 Time: 02:01:08:pm
Drone explodes above a podium where officials were watching a military parade at a Yemeni base

A drone attack on a Yemeni government base by the rebel Houthi movement has reportedly killed six soldiers.

The drone exploded above a podium at al-Anad base, in the southern province of Lahj, where high-ranking officers and officials were watching a parade.

Medics said army deputy chief of staff Gen Saleh al-Zindani and Lahj governor Ahmed al-Turki were among those hurt.

A Houthi-run TV channel said the rebels had targeted personnel from the Saudi-led coalition backing the government.

The attack threatens to derail UN peace efforts, which last month saw both sides agree to a ceasefire around the lifeline Red Sea port of Hudaydah, which is crucial to the delivery of aid supplies.

Screengrab taken from video showing Yemeni soldiers after a drone exploded above al-Anad military base in Lahj, Yemen (10 January 2019)
Soldiers scrambled to carry wounded comrades to military vehicles

A Houthi military source told Al-Masirah TV that Thursday's attack targeted "invaders" - an apparent reference to coalition personnel - and "mercenaries" at al-Anad, which which is about 60km (40 miles) north of the second city of Aden.

It was carried out after "careful monitoring of gatherings and movements" at the base, he added.

Video footage of the incident showed the drone approaching the parade ground rapidly and at low altitude before exploding above the covered VIP podium.

"It was a very strong explosion and we could feel the pressure," local journalist Nabil al-Qaiti, who was at the parade, told the Associated Press.

"The drone was packed with explosives," he added.

Map showing control of Yemen

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Medics at the Ibn Khaldoun hospital in the nearby city of Houta told AFP news agency that six soldiers were killed and 12 people were injured in the attack.

They said the wounded include Gen Zindani, Mr Turki, intelligence chief Brig-Gen Mohammed Saleh Tamah, and senior army commander Fadel Hasan.

Chief of staff Gen Abdullah al-Nakhi was also at the base when the drone struck, but there are conflicting reports about whether he was hurt.

It was not immediately clear if any coalition military officials were present.

Soldiers inspect damage to a VIP area after a drone attack on Yemen's al-Anad military base in Lahj province (10 January 2018)
Medics said the army's deputy chief of staff and the governor of Lahj province were wounded

Information Minister Moammar al-Eryani said the attack proved that the Houthis "are not ready for peace". He said the rebels are "exploiting truces" as an opportunity to redeploy their fighters.

The attack comes a day after the UN special envoy to Yemen said the warring parties had largely stuck to the ceasefire around the pivotal Hudaydah port.

However, Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council that "substantial progress" was needed before further talks could be held on ending the civil war.

Screengrab taken from video showing Yemeni soldier walking past the wing of a drone that exploded above al-Anad military base in Lahj, Yemen (10 January 2019)
Saudi-owned TV channels described the drone as Iranian made, without offering evidence

Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in early 2015, when the Houthis seized control of much of the west of the country and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad.

Alarmed by the rise of a group they saw as an Iranian proxy, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and seven other Arab states intervened in an attempt to restore the government.

At least 6,800 civilians have been killed and 10,700 injured in the fighting, according to the UN. Thousands more civilians have died from preventable causes, including malnutrition, disease and poor health.

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