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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Yemen's Houthis loot currency exchanges

The stolen funds were taken to Houthi-controlled former headquarters of Yemen's central bank

A Yemeni man exchanges money in Sanaa. Khaled Fazaa / AFP
A Yemeni man exchanges money in Sanaa. Khaled Fazaa / AFP

Yemeni soldiers affiliated with the Houthis have looted more than 30 currency exchanges in Sanaa, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and vandalising surveillance cameras and computers.

A source in the rebel-held capital told The National that the looting, which occurred on Tuesday afternoon, was carried out by renegade soldiers from the Yemeni army's National Security Bureau, but that they were not wearing uniforms.

A large number of National Security Bureau soldiers in Sanaa have aligned themselves with the Houthis since the Iran-backed rebels seized the capital in September 2014.

Describing events at one of the exchanges affected, the source said: "They (the soldiers) stormed Al Kuraimy currency exchange — a small microfinance bank located on Al Qyada street, near to Al Tahreer square in the middle of Sanaa — at 5.10pm, looting US$40,000 (Dh146,900) and 200,000 Saudi rials (Dh195,866)."

"They detained the manager of the branch and another employee who have not yet been released."

The source said at least 30 other exchanges had been affected. The soldiers told the owners of the exchanges that they had failed to adhere to the currency exchange limit imposed by the Houthis.

The armed men told the owners that the stolen funds would be taken to the Houthi-controlled former headquarters of Yemen's central bank and deposited there.

The central bank's headquarters were located in Sanaa before the internationally recognised government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi relocated them to the second city of Aden in September 2016.

Mr Hadi's government was forced to flee Sanaa after it was captured by the Houthis and is now also based in Aden.

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Read more:

Houthis restrict imports and ban purchase of dollars

Unpaid state salaries deepen economic pain in Yemen’s war

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