Tens killed as clashes erupt on Saudi-Yemen border

Tens killed as clashes erupt on Saudi-Yemen border
Seven Saudi troops and tens of Houthis were killed on Saturday in clashes in the southern Saudi border region of Najran, as the UN proposed an extension of peace talks.
3 min read
31 July, 2016
More than 6,400 Yemenis, most of them civilians, have been killed since last March [Getty]
A Saudi army officer and six soldiers were killed Saturday in clashes with Houthi rebels who attempted to infiltrate the kingdom's southern borders, the Riyadh-led coalition said.

Houthi rebels backed by renegade troops loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh tried to infiltrate the borders in the southern Najran area, the coalition fighting the rebels said in a statement carried by the SPA state news agency.

"An officer and six soldiers of the Saudi armed forces fell martyrs," said the statement, adding that Saudi warplanes had repelled the attackers.

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes fired back at the rebels killing tens of fighters, Reuters reported.

On Monday, five Saudi border guards were killed in similar border clashes in the Najran area.

Southern Saudi Arabia, especially the border areas with Yemen, has come under sporadic attack since Riyadh took the lead in March 2015 in an Arab military coalition battling Shia Houthi rebels who control northern Yemen.

Around 100 members of the Saudi forces and civilians have been killed in skirmishes.

More than 6,400 Yemenis, most of them civilians, have been killed since last March, and the fighting has driven 2.8 Yemenis from their homes.

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International rights groups accused Saudi Arabia of causing severe shortages of fuel and medical supplies due to its blockade of Yemen.

Saudi Arabia denied the accusations, blaming the Houthis for taking-over the supplies and mismanaging ports.

International medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders highlighted the shortages, warning that thousands of Yemeni dialysis patients face life-threatening risks since their treatment centres are struggling with supplies amid import restrictions that have pushed them to "breaking point."

UN peace talks extended

The UN special envoy for Yemen made a last-ditch bid on Saturday to salvage the talks by proposing to extend them for one week, after the government delegation said it planned to quit the Kuwait discussions.

United Nations envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed held talks with both delegations on Saturday and proposed a framework for a comprehensive settlement.

"I met today with both delegations [and] suggested a one-week extension to the talks," Ould Cheikh Ahmed wrote on Twitter.

He said he also proposed a "framework for a solution to the crisis in Yemen", without elaborating.

Prospects for the peace talks had been dimmed this week after Houthi rebels announced a formal alliance with the country's ousted president and his former ruling party by setting up a new political council to rule the country.

International ambassadors stationed in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, said they were concerned by the new alliance, calling it in a statement "not consistent with commitments and good faith in pursuing a peaceful resolution under the auspices of the UN."

Kuwait has hosted Yemen peace talks since April but the negotiations have failed to make any progress.

Agencies contributed to this report.