Deadly attack on military camp 'threatens Yemen's peace', UN warns

Deadly attack on military camp 'threatens Yemen's peace', UN warns
The global body said Saturday’s missile attack on a military base in Marib could derail a fragile political process that aims to calm the almost five-year-old war.

3 min read
20 January, 2020
More than 100, including soldiers and civilians, were killed in the attack [Twitter]
The United Nations on Monday condemned a deadly attack on a government military camp in Yemen that killed more than 100 people, which the government has blamed on Houthi rebels.

The global body said Saturday's missile attack could derail a fragile political process that aims to calm the almost five-year-old war.

"The hard–earned progress that Yemen has made on de-escalation is very fragile. Such actions can derail this progress," the United Nations envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths said, urging Yemen's conflicting factions to redirect efforts from the battlefield to political dialogue.

The UN comments came after more than 100 people were killed and dozens wounded in a missile and drone attack blamed on Houthi rebels.

Saturday's strike, which hit a mosque inside a military camp in Marib, follows months of relative calm in the war between the Iran-backed Houthis and Yemen's internationally-recognised government, which is supported by a Saudi-led military coalition. 

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, though military sources, as well as Yemen’s Saudi-based President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi directly blamed the Houthis.

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"The disgraceful actions of the Houthi militia without a doubt confirm its unwillingness to (achieve) peace, because it knows nothing but death and destruction and is a cheap Iranian tool in the region," Saba news agency quoted Hadi as saying. 

Meanwhile, Yemen's foreign ministry in a statement on Twitter said: "We strongly condemn the terrorist attack on a mosque by the Houthi militias... which left more than 100 dead and dozens injured."

An army spokesman said that the dead included soldiers and civilians, and that the Houthis would face a "ruthless" retaliation to the strike.

Death tolls in Yemen's grinding conflict are often disputed, but the huge casualty list in Marib represents one of the bloodiest single attacks since the war erupted in 2014 when the rebels seized the capital Sanaa. 

Saudi-owned Al-Hadath television broadcast a video that it showed the gruesome aftermath of the attack.

Body parts can be seen on the floor among shredded debris. Blood is pooled on the carpet and spattered against the walls. 

EU foreign policy spokesman Peter Stano said in a statement late on Sunday that "all parties should show restraint and engage constructively with the UN Special Envoy to end the conflict".

"The EU will continue supporting the UN in achieving this with all the tools at its disposal," he added.

The drone and missile strike came a day after coalition-backed government forces launched a large-scale operation against the Houthis in the Nihm region, north of Sanaa. 

Fighting in Nihm was ongoing on Sunday, a military source said according to the official Saba news agency.

"Dozens from the (Houthi) militia were killed and injured," the source added. 

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the conflict to back the government against the Houthis in March 2015, shortly after the rebels seized control of Sanaa. 

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced in the war that has ravaged the country, triggering what the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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