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Houthi shelling kills women inmates at Yemen's Taiz prison

Taiz is divided between Houthi and government-controlled areas [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 April, 2020

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Houthi shelling on a prison in Taiz killed at least five women and a child on Saturday, local reports confirmed.
At least five women and a child were killed after Houthi rebels launched an attack on a prison in Yemen's third largest city on Sunday.

Around 28 more people were injured in the shelling which struck the woman's section of Taiz's main prison, local reports confirmed.

The child was reportedly visiting the prison at the time of the attack.

Graphic images that surfaced online showed the dead bodies sprawled across the floor at the facility.

Taiz has been divided between Houthi and government control for several years.

The rebel attack on Sunday came just days after similar attacks, including on an oil facility in Yemen's eastern Marib that was blamed on the Houthis.

The attack struck the state-owned Safer oil company pipeline, the ministry said, triggering a fire at the facillity.

However, Hussein al-Ezzi, an official in the Houthi-controlled government blamed the "dangerous escalation" in Marib on the Saudi-led coalition.

The Marib assault followed days after the rebels launched their biggest attack on the neighbouring Saudi kingdom since the September assault on Aramco oil facilities, leaving two civilians wounded in Riyadh.

Read also: Yemen in Focus: Houthi attack on Riyadh a 'bargaining chip' amid ongoing talks

A Houthi spokesman said the rebels struck "sensitive targets" in Riyadh with long-range Zulfiqar missiles and Sammad-3 drones. The rebels also claimed to have hit "economic and military targets" in the border regions of Jizan, Najran and Asir.

Saudi Arabia responded to the strikes with its own bombardment on the rebel-held Yemeni capital on Monday, which killed one civilian and some 70 Arabian horses that were stationed at a military college.

The Houthi-run Al-Masirah television reported at least 19 air strikes on a number of targets in Sanaa, including military bases and the military academy, where the horses were sheltered.

The escalation in violence comes despite efforts by the UN to secure a nationwide ceasefire to help counter the threat of the coronavirus.

Martin Griffiths' office said he is discussing "concrete steps" in daily consultations aimed at bringing the warring sides together in "virtual" negotiations as soon as possible, a statement from his office said.

"I hope that these consultations can be soon completed and deliver what Yemenis expect, demand and deserve," it quoted the envoy as saying.

The United Nations has issued a global call for armed groups to stand down during the pandemic.

The Yemen government, its Saudi-led coalition ally and the Houthis allegedly responded positively to the appeal, although the latest attacks in Marib and Taiz have cast doubts on the rebels' commitment to peace.

Read also: Outrage over Saudi-led coalition 'horse massacre' in strikes on Yemen's capital

Saudi-backed government forces - including tribal fighters - and the Houthis are currently interlocked in clashes in Yemen's eastern region after the rebels captured control of Al-Jawf last month. All eyes are now on the oil-rich eastern Marib province amid a looming Houthi offensive.

Yemen's devastating nearly-five-year war has introduced air strikes, death and poverty to a nation that was already listed as one of the most impoverished in the world. 

More than 100,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition intervened to back the government in March 2015, prompting the UN to label the situation in the country as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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