November 6, 2019 / 7:58 PM / 8 days ago

Houthis fire missiles at Yemen's Mokha port, military coalition says

DUBAI (Reuters) - Yemen’s Houthi movement fired missiles and drones at the Red Sea port city of al-Mokha on Wednesday, causing deaths and injuries and damaging a hospital, forces in the anti-Houthi military coalition said.

Damaged vehicles are seen at a military site hit by a missile attack by Yemen's Houthi movement in the Red Sea port city of al-Mokha, Yemen November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

There was no immediate confirmation of the rare attack on a coalition naval base from Houthi-run media or the spokesman for the Saudi-led Sunni Muslim alliance that has been battling the Iran-aligned movement in Yemen for more than four years.

Once a thriving coffee-exporting hub, al-Mokha had, along with nearby al-Khokha, served as military bases for the United Arab Emirates until they withdrew earlier this year as part of a phased drawdown of the Emirati presence in Yemen. Saudi-led forces took control of the ports in July.

“The Houthi militia backed by Iran ... (used) ballistic missiles and exploding drones. Most of them were intercepted and some fell on residential areas, a displaced persons camp and a health center run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF),” the pro-coalition joint military command of the western coast said in a statement, without mentioning whether military targets had been hit.

A hospital run by MSF, or Doctors Without Borders, in al-Mokha was damaged during an attack on nearby buildings, the international aid group said in an emailed statement. No staff or patients were injured but medical activities are currently suspended, MSF said.

Military sources and the statement said several people were killed. Three residents told Reuters by telephone that 10 people had been killed, including civilians, and that a fire broke out at military warehouses located near a hospital in the port.

Reuters could not immediately verify the deaths.

Two Yemeni military sources told Reuters that three missiles had been intercepted but a fourth had struck the warehouses.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 against Houthi forces after they ousted the internationally recognized government from power in the capital, Sanaa, in the north.

A potential step towards a broad political solution for the multifaceted conflict took place on Tuesday when the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and southern separatists signed an agreement to end a power struggle in Yemen’s south between the two nominal allies in the anti-Houthi campaign.

Saudi Arabia had been trying to resolve the stand-off to refocus the coalition on fighting the Houthis on its southern border.

The Houthis, who hold Sanaa and most of Yemen’s big urban centers, deny being puppets of Iran and say they are fighting a corrupt system.

Reporting by Reuters Yemen team; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Jonathan Oatis

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