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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Yemen's Houthis 'kidnap' daughter of Saleh's personal guard

A journalist based in the rebel-held capital said tribal leaders were trying to mediate with the Houthis to secure the 18-year-old's release

Houthi supporters are seen in Sanaa on December 20, 2017. Yahya Arhab / EPA
Houthi supporters are seen in Sanaa on December 20, 2017. Yahya Arhab / EPA

Yemen's Houthi rebels have kidnapped the 18-year-old daughter of one of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's personal guards, an action that is considered hugely shameful within the country's tribal traditions.

A journalist based in the rebel-held capital, who did not want to be named for fear of his safety, said on Wednesday that tribal leaders were trying to mediate with the Houthis to secure her release.

It comes amid a crackdown by the rebels against Saleh's supporters following the collapse of a three-year alliance between the two sides, which resulted in the Houthis killing the former president earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said on Wednesday it will keep the country’s main Hodeidah port open for a month despite a Houthi ballistic missile attack a day before that targeted the royal palace in Riyadh.

The coalition, which is fighting the Houthis on behalf of the internationally-recognised Yemeni government, controls the country’s airspace and access to its ports.

Last month, it responded to another missile launch by the rebels targeting Riyadh by blocking all entry to Yemen. It has since relaxed these restrictions, however.

Both missile launches in the past two months were intercepted, the Saudi authorities say. No casualties were reported in either attack.

Shortly after Tuesday's attack, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, tweeted: "Riyadh is safe in God's grace, but you who follows Satan, who will protect you?"

On Wednesday, the coalition said Hodeidah port would remain open for humanitarian and relief supplies despite the latest attack, citing "intensified inspection measures" and saying it was "keen to maintain humanitarian aid to the brotherly Yemeni people".

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Read more: US says Houthi missile attack on Riyadh 'bears hallmarks of Iran'

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The official Saudi Press Agency said ships carrying fuel and food supplies would be allowed to enter for another 30 days while proposals made by the United Nations envoy to Yemen are implemented.

The agency did not elaborate on the proposals, but the coalition had been demanding that a UN inspection regime agreed in 2015 be tightened to prevent weapons from reaching the Houthis.

Support from Iran after the failure of international organisations to monitor rebel-controlled Sanaa and other parts of the country has bolstered Houthi efforts in the war.

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Read more:

Yemen rebel missile shot down by Saudis, UN says weapons are likely Iranian

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The coalition had accused Iran of sending the missile that was fired towards Riyadh in November, and the United States last week displayed what it said was evidence that it was provided by Tehran to the rebels in Yemen.

The closure of Yemen's ports and airports last month caused food and fuel shortages in a country reeling from more than three years of war in which more than 10,000 people have died, more than two million have been displaced and where insanitary conditions have led to a cholera epidemic.

The internationally-recognised president of Yemen, Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, received the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Dr Abdullatif Al Zayani, on Tuesday. The meeting took place as countries of the GCC, the Arab world and international organisations condemned the aggression against Riyadh.

During the meeting, the men discussed the latest developments in Yemen as well as political, security and humanitarian developments and issues of mutual interest.