'Yemeni govt officials survive Houthi drone attack in Hodeidah'

Last Updated: Mon, Jan 14, 2019 05:20 hrs

Aden, Jan 14 (IANS) A team of Yemeni government officials survived an attack by a Houthi drone in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Sunday, Yemen's Information Minister Muamar Eryani said.

Eryani announced through his official Twitter account that "the army forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition thwarted an assassination attempt targeting the government team in the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) in Hodeidah."

He said that a Houthi drone manufactured in Iran attempted to target the government's RCC team commanded by Sagheer Aziz, reports Xinhua news agency.

"An Iranian-made drone loaded with highly explosive materials was intercepted and detonated before attacking the residence of the government's RCC team in the Durayhmi district of Hodeidah," the minister added.

Eryani accused the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi group of repeatedly attempting to hinder the Stockholm agreement and impeding efforts exerted by the United Nations as well as the international community to solve the country's conflict.

Meanwhile, sources confirmed to Xinhua that the Houthi RCC team refused earlier in the day to participate in a meeting chaired by Patrick Cammaert, who was appointed by the UN as head of the RCC which includes representatives from Yemeni rival forces.

The sources said that the Houthi rebels launched sporadic artillery shelling on sites of the government forces in Hodeidah despite the presence of the UN-led cease-fire monitoring team.

Mohammed Abdul-Salam, spokesman of the Houthi rebel group, blamed Cammaert for failing to achieve progress in implementing the Stockholm agreement.

"The lack of progress in Hodeidah in terms of the implementation of the Stockholm agreement is mainly due to the head of the UN-led RCC who steered from the course of the agreement by implementing other agendas," Abdul-Salam said on Twitter.

"The task seems to be greater than Cammaert's capabilities and it's going to be difficult to discuss other issues if the UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths does not intervene to address the matter," he added.

Earlier in the day, chief of Yemen's military intelligence agency Saleh Tamah died of wounds he suffered in the Houthi drone attack on the strategic al-Anad air base in southern Lahj province three days ago.

Tamah was born in 1950 in Lahj and was appointed by the internationally-backed Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to lead the military intelligence agency last year.

Fourth Regional Military Command General Fadhel Hassan and the governor of Lahj, Ahmed Abdullah Turki, are still receiving treatment in Aden.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for Thursday's operation, saying that the drone attack on the military parade in Lahj came as a "response to the continued raids of Saudi aggression targeting innocent citizens."

Yemen has been locked in a civil war since the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels overran much of the country militarily and seized all northern provinces, including the capital Sanaa, in 2014.

Saudi Arabia leads an Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support the government of Hadi after Houthi rebels forced him into exile.

The UN has listed Yemen as the world's top humanitarian crisis, with 7 million citizens on the brink of famine.

--IANS

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