Civilian Death Toll Rising in Taiz

Civilian Death Toll Rising in TaizCivilian Death Toll Rising in Taiz

The number of people, mostly civilians, killed in fighting and airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s third city Taiz is climbing up, the International Committee of the Red Cross said late Saturday.

The Doctors Without Borders aid group had said Friday that 65 civilians were killed and several wounded in coalition bombing runs in Taiz’s Salah neighborhood.

Yemen’s Saba news agency had put the death toll at 63 civilians and said at least 50 were wounded, Middle East Online reported.

But Red Cross’ spokesperson Rima Kamal said airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen as well as clashes between the Houthis and forces loyal to the country’s fugitive president Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi had killed 80 people by Saturday evening, adding that it was unknown if people in the city were “dead or alive under the rubble.”

“My colleague was told that by noon yesterday, there were 50 killed; in the evening it went up to 80. These are figures we are receiving from various sides,” she said.

Pro-Hadi forces in Yemen have made some advances in the south against Houthi forces in the past few weeks.

They retook Yemen’s second city Aden last month and have taken four additional southern provinces in their advance toward Taiz, which is viewed as the gateway to the Houthi-held capital Sana’a.

 Saudi Soldier Killed in Fire Exchange

The Saudi military said a soldier was killed along the border in an exchange of fire with Houthi fighters.

A statement released late Saturday said the soldier was killed in the Saudi border region of Jizan by fire from inside Yemen. The statement did not say whether any Houthi was killed or wounded in the exchange.

A Saudi-led Arab military coalition began bombing Yemen in late March to restore Hadi to power and repel Houthi forces who took control of Sana’a in September and forced Hadi and his government into exile in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Two Saudi pilots were killed Friday when their helicopter was shot down in Jizan.

 Al-Qaeda’s Flag Raised in Aden

Al-Qaeda militants took control of a western district of Yemen’s main port city of Aden on Saturday night, residents said, in another sign that the group is drawing strength from five months of civil war.

“Dozens of Al-Qaeda militants were patrolling the streets with their weapons in total freedom in a number of areas in Tawahi … others raised the Al-Qaeda black flag above government buildings, including the administrative building of the port,” a resident said.

The entrance of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula into Aden would be one of its biggest gains yet.

Emirati forces based in Aden, meanwhile, freed a British hostage who had been held by the group, UAE state news agency WAM said on Sunday.

The hostage was identified by a Yemeni police source as an oil worker abducted in February last year.

 Militants Killed in Drone Strikes

Four suspected Al-Qaeda militants were killed overnight in an apparent US drone strike in Mukalla, the southern Yemeni city that the extremist group overran in April, a local official said Sunday.

The four were traveling in a car on the tarmac of Mukalla’s Al-Rayane Airport that was struck by a missile fired by an “American drone,” according to the unnamed official, killing them instantly.

The night strike follows a similar attack on Friday which killed three Al-Qaeda suspects as they traveled through the central Marib Province, tribal sources said. The US is the only country known to operate armed drones over Yemen.