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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

Two former Yemen government ministers escape from Sanaa

The men had been jailed by Houthi rebels in 2015 before being transferred to house arrest

This file photo shows Yemen government fighters on the front line of the battle against Houthi rebels outside Sanaa on February 14, 2018. Bloomberg
This file photo shows Yemen government fighters on the front line of the battle against Houthi rebels outside Sanaa on February 14, 2018. Bloomberg

Two former Yemen government ministers have managed to escape the Houthi-held capital of Sanaa, fleeing house arrest imposed on them by the rebels.

Abdul Razak Al Ashwal, once a minister of technical training and vocational education, arrived in Aden on Saturday, a source in the Yemen government told The National.

He was among five people from Yemen's Al Islah Party released in 2016 from a Houthi-run prison only then to be placed under detention at home.

Also on Saturday, Brigadier Mutaher Rashad Al Masri, a former minister for Yemen's late ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh, meanwhile to flee to Marib, a city east of Sanaa, a source told The National.

The two ministers were put in jail in 2015 but after being held for a year the former UN envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed brokered a deal after negotiations with the Houthis.

Their escape comes with fighting ongoing in Yemen ahead of a new round of peace talks led by UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths.

Separately, two children were killed and another two badly injured when the Houthis pounded a populated neighbourhood east of Marib on Saturday, local journalist Ramzi Mokhtar told The National.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday that the rebels had stopped the head of the UN Office in Sanaa, responsible for UN observers across the war-hit country, from returning to Yemen. No explanation was given for why he had been blocked from returning, Saba news agency reported.

"The UN spokeswoman pointed out that the Houthi militia did not provide any reason for their decision and they have not responded for the UN requests up to now," Saba said.

Failure to resolve Yemen's war could lead to a situation worse than in Syria and benefit terrorist groups, Mr Griffiths has warned.

Both the rebels and the internationally-recognised government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi say they will attend the being convened by Mr Griffiths in Geneva next month.

The talks will be first since Kuwait hosted several months of negotiations in 2016.

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Read more:

UN's Yemen envoy warns against allowing war to drag on

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