15 killed in fighting near Yemen Red Sea port
Aden // Seven Yemeni soldiers and eight rebels were killed in heavy fighting over the weekend near the Red Sea coastal town of Mokha.
The historic port was captured by government forces on February 10 as part of a major offensive launched in January to try to recapture Yemen’s 450 kilometre Red Sea coastline, which had previously been almost entirely in rebel hands.
But there have been repeated clashes over the past month both inland and north of the town as the Iran-backed rebels seek to take it back.
The latest fighting focused on the village of Yakhtul, 14 kilometres north of Mokha, which is currently in government hands, medical and security sources said Saturday.
It came after the Houthis claimed an air strike on Friday by the Saudi-led coalition supporting the government killed 20 civilians and six rebels.
The strike on the town of Khokha targeted rebel fighters who had taken refuge at the entrance to a market selling the narcotic qat.
The same day two sailors were killed when a Yemeni coast guard vessel hit a naval mine suspected of being planted in the Red Sea by the rebels. The explosion also wounded eight others, including the ship’s captain, security officials said.
The Saudi-led coalition had previously warned of the dangers to international shipping of naval mines planted by the Houthi militants in the Red Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
The fighting around Mokha has driven more than 48,000 people from their homes, the Yemen spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency, Shabia Mantoo, said earlier this month.
*Agence France-Presse and Associated Press
Updated: March 11, 2017 04:00 AM