SANAA (Reuters) - Saudi-led air strikes killed at least 44 people during an air raid on the main headquarters of the Yemeni army in central Sanaa on Sunday, the state news agency Saba said.
More than 100 people, including women and children, were also wounded in the attack, which destroyed private houses in the Tahrir district of central Sanaa adjacent to the compound, Saba said.
Residents earlier reported four explosions at the compound, where soldiers allied with the Iranian-backed Houthi group that now controls large parts of Yemen including the capital had gathered since Saturday evening to get their pay cheques.
Saba, now also Houthi-controlled, quoted a source at the Health Ministry as saying rescue teams were still working to find people under the rubble.
Saudi-led forces have been pounding Houthi forces as well as allied troops loyal to former long-time president Ali Abdullah Saleh since March 26 in an attempt to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power.
Saudi Arabia and fellow Sunni Muslim-ruled Gulf monarchies fear that the Houthis will extend the reach of the region’s main Shi’ite power, Iran, in a country already beset by separatism and home to the most active branch of al Qaeda.
Despite the continued fighting, Hadi’s exiled Yemeni government in Riyadh and the Houthis have agreed to attend United Nations-sponsored peace talks in Geneva on June 14.
U.N. special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed held talks on Saturday in Oman, which has been trying to mediate in Yemen, the Omani state news agency ONA reported.
In the central Yemeni city of Taiz, local officials and medics said eight Houthi fighters had been killed in an attack by Hadi loyalists.
Residents also reported air strikes on military camps east and west of Sanaa, but there was no immediate word on casualties.
The Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television said warplanes had attacked a Yemeni army Scud missile base in Faj Attan, south west of Sanaa. One witness reported at least four air raids and saw thick smoke rising from the area.
Saudi Arabia said on Saturday it had intercepted a Scud missile fired by Yemeni army units towards the Saudi city of Khamees Mushait, the first reported use of ballistic missiles in the conflict.
Saba reported on Sunday that the death toll from air strikes and shelling on a school and medical facilities in Hajjah province the day before had risen to 59. The report could not be independently verified.
Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari, writing by Hadeel Al Sayegh, editing by Sami Aboudi and Kevin Liffey