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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Top Hadi general killed in Yemen by Houthis

An explosion at a funeral in Sanaa kills more than 100 people but Saudi-led coalition denied carrying out the attack.
 Yemenis inspect the site of Saudi-led airstrikes that hit a funeral ceremony in Sanaa, Yemen,  on October 8, 2016. The Saudi-led coalition denied the attack. Yahya Arhab / EPA
Yemenis inspect the site of Saudi-led airstrikes that hit a funeral ceremony in Sanaa, Yemen, on October 8, 2016. The Saudi-led coalition denied the attack. Yahya Arhab / EPA

ADEN // A top general in forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi has been killed in fighting with a rebel coalition east of the capital Sanaa.

Major-General Abdel-Rab Al Shadadi, commander of Yemen’s Third Military Region — which has its headquarters in the city of Marib — was the most senior member of the pro-Hadi forces to be killed in nearly 19 months of civil war in Yemen.

Gen Shadadi died in hospital on Friday after being badly wounded in Marib, said a statement Mr Hadi’s internationally-recognised government.

News of his death came on a day of bloodshed across the country. More than 100 people were killed and hundreds wounded in an attack on a funeral in Sanaa, according to the Iran-backed rebels in control of the city.

The Saudi-led coalition, fighting in support of Mr Hadi’s government, denied the explosion had been caused by one of its air strikes.

The coalition said it carried out no operations at the location and that “other causes” for the incident must be considered.

Witnesses said hundreds of people were attending the funeral of the father of a rebel interior minister Jalal Al Rowaishan when the building was hit.

The Houthi rebels, who are allied with troops loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, did not say if Mr Rowaishan was present in the building at the time of the attack.

Emergency workers pulled out at least 20 charred remains and body parts from the gutted building while others scoured the wreckage in search for survivors, a witness said.

The corpses were either completely burnt or in pieces, and some of the wounded had their legs torn off and were being treated on the spot by volunteers, he said.

“The place has been turned into a lake of blood,” said one rescuer, Murad Tawfiq.

Ambulances rushed to the site to ferry the wounded to hospitals. In radio broadcasts, the rebel health ministry summoned off-duty doctors and called on residents to donate blood. Rescuers, meanwhile, sifted through the rubble in search of more casualties, but a fire that erupted hindered their work.

The rebel website sabanews.net blamed coalition planes for the attack. The Houthi’s Almasirah television said Sanaa mayor Abdel Qader Hilal was among those killed.

People had come from all over Sanaa to attend the funeral, said Mulatif Al Mojani, who witnessed the air strikes.

“A plane fired a missile and minutes later another plane pounded” the building, he said.

“This was a funeral for one man in Sanaa and now it has turned into a funeral for tens of Yemenis,” said another witness.

The violence came a day after Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN envoy for Yemen said he hoped to announce a ceasefire in the next few days.

UN-sponsored talks to stop the fighting, which has killed more than 10,000 people, ended inconclusively in August.

The war started after the Houthis swept into Sanaa in September 2014 and advanced across much of Yemen, forcing Mr Hadi’s government to flee Sanaa.

A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting to restore Mr Hadi to power since March 2015.

More than 6,700 people — most of them civilians — have been killed in Yemen since the coalition intervened in support of Hadi, according to the UN.

*Agence France-Presse, Associated Press