June 3, 2015 / 7:14 AM / 4 years ago

Air strikes kill 20 Houthi fighters in Yemen's Aden: militia

SANAA (Reuters) - Saudi-led air strikes killed a group of around 20 Houthi fighters outside the southern Yemeni port city of Aden on Wednesday and also shook the capital Sanaa in the north, militiamen opposed to the Houthis said.

A coalition of Arab states began bombing Houthi forces, the dominant faction in Yemen’s civil war, in March in a campaign to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power shortly after he fled to Saudi Arabia.

The Houthis say they are campaigning to persuade Hadi’s administration to bring them into the political system and seeking to stop corruption by senior officials. They have fanned out across much of Yemen since seizing Sanaa in September.

The militia sources said the Houthis were killed when the air raid hit their military convoy as it was transporting an artillery piece toward the northwest suburbs of Aden.

The death toll could not be independently verified.

Residents in Aden complain of a worsening humanitarian situation as the Arab coalition has imposed a near blockade on food and fuel imports and fighting has cut off the city.

In the battle-scarred district of Crater, residents said that four people died of dengue fever on Tuesday. Electricity, water and trash collection have lapsed during the conflict.

Houthi officials said there were casualties in the air strikes on Sanaa but gave no further details. Locals saw ambulances racing to the scene.

Slideshow (6 Images)

“The ... blasts made me jump out of bed,” one man who identified himself as Assem told Reuters by phone. Residents said the warplanes launched at least 10 strikes north of Sanaa, causing massive explosions.

Air strikes on Wednesday hit the home of a Houthi leader in the central province of Ibb and targeted areas in the northern province of Saada and the southern province of Lahj, residents said.

The Arab alliance regards the Houthis as a threat to the stability of Yemen, which has a long border with the world’s top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia.

Additional reporting by Mohamed Mukhashaf in Aden; Writing by Amena Bakr; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Katharine Houreld

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