ADEN (Reuters) - Houthi fighters in Yemen fired missiles at a military base of the Saudi-backed government in Marib province, northeast of the capital Sanaa, on Tuesday, killing seven people including relatives of the chief of staff, three military sources said.
The assault took place after the expiry of a one-month ceasefire announced on April 24 by the Saudi-led coalition that is battling the Iran-aligned movement and which was prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
There was no immediate claim from the Houthis, who despite the truce have continued their advance on Marib city, leading the coalition to launch air strikes in response.
The sources said Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Sagheer bin Aziz survived Tuesday’s attack. One of his sons and a nephew, both officers, were killed along with five others, the sources said. Another of his sons confirmed this on Twitter.
The United Nations has been trying to hold virtual talks between the warring parties to forge a permanent ceasefire, agree a coordinated coronavirus response and restart peace talks stalled since late 2018.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Friday that the novel coronavirus is spreading throughout the country, which has limited testing capabilities and whose malnourished population has among the world’s lowest immunity levels to disease.
Yemen has been divided between the Saudi-backed government in the south and the Houthi movement based in the north since the group ousted the government from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, prompting the coalition to intervene a few months later.
The government has reported 249 infections with 48 deaths from the virus while the Houthis, who hold most large population centres, announced four cases with one death, all in Sanaa.
OCHA has said actual numbers are much higher and that Yemen’s war-ravaged health system has in effect collapsed.
Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Angus MacSwan