Houthi mines at 500,000 spots killed 700 in Yemen

Soldiers loyal to Yemen's government stand next to mines planted by the Houthi rebels in locations where they controlled in frontline in the province of Marib, in this October 4, 2015 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 April 2017
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Houthi mines at 500,000 spots killed 700 in Yemen

JEDDAH: Houthi militias and fighters of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh continue to plant land and sea mines amid international silence. This is despite the fact that the use of such explosives is considered a crime against humanity, according to Yemeni government and military officials.
As a result, Yemen needs years to eliminate the mines because there are no maps to locate where they were planted. The Houthi militias planted mines in sensitive areas to stop the advance of government forces, especially after the southern governorates have been liberated.
Statistics show that hundreds of civilian victims fell victim to the explosives, killed or maimed, and the figure is increasing due to the spread of the war in urban areas.
Col. Haytham Haloub, chief of the Military Engineering Division in the Fourth Military Region and director of the National Mine Action Center in Aden, said that coup militias planted many mines in a haphazard manner, including the prohibited anti-personnel mines as well as homemade bombs and anti-tank mines.
He added that until last May, engineering teams defused more than 31,000 mines in Aden, Lahj, Abyan and some parts of the Taiz Governorate.
The Arab Federation for Human Rights, in its last report, said the Houthis planted mines at more than 500,000 locations in Yemen, which were responsible for 700 deaths. Engineers of the Arab coalition have dismantled 40,000 mines so far.
The Yemeni government has sought the international community’s help to defuse the mines planted in densely populated areas in the liberated areas.
The government said the mines are banned internationally; pose a threat to life and lead to losses of civilian lives, especially women and children. They are difficult to find because there are no maps with their position, it said.
The government has sought help from the international community because Yemen lacks the required equipment. Yemeni engineering teams, with the support of the Arab Coalition, extracted and dismantle several Iranian-made naval minefields of various sizes.
They were planted by the coup militias on the coasts of the Midi region, in the northwest of Yemen.
One such naval mine hit a boat on the Midi coast, leading to the deaths of eight fishermen. Col. Mohammed Salam Al-Asbahi, commander of the Naval Arrow operation, said the Yemeni Army began the process of combing and clearing the coasts and islands from mines planted by rebel militias.
Al-Asbahi said the locations of the mines were identified and marked to help fishermen avoid dangerous areas. He added that the engineering teams started the disposal process, dragging the mines to one of the unpopulated islands where they are detonated.
Omar Jawhar, brigadier general of the Fifth Military Region War in Midi, said the aim is to clear the Red Sea islands and coasts of Iranian mines.
In statements to the media, he said the process is not limited to sea mines only, but covers the wild coasts of Midi.
He added the mines lifted from the Red Sea came from Iran. The discovery corroborates testimony by Gen. Joseph Foteil, US commander of the American forces in the Middle East, to the US Congress Armed Forces Committee that Houthi rebels are strongly supported by Iran and threaten shipping in the Hormouz and strategic Bab Al-Mandab straits. He said: “Houthis, with Iran’s support, spread along the Hormouz rockets and radar systems, in addition to mines and explosive boats.”
He added that the Arab coalition forces thwarted an attempt to smuggle mines over sea routes to the western beaches of Yemen.


Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

Updated 25 April 2019
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Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

  • The bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen
  • Govt forces detained the bird on suspicion that the attached GPS tracker was a spy device for Houthi militants

SANAA: Griffon vulture Nelson crossed into war-torn Yemen in search of food but ended up in the hands of Yemeni fighters — and temporarily in jail for suspected espionage.
The sand-colored bird came down in the country’s third city of Taiz, an unusual move for a young vulture that can soar for long distances across continents in search of food and moderate weather.
Nelson, approximately two years old, embarked on his journey in September 2018 from Bulgaria, where his wing was tagged and equipped with a satellite transmitter by the Fund for Wild Fauna and Flora (FWFF).
But he seems to have lost his way, eventually coming down into Taiz — under siege by Houthi rebels but controlled by pro-government forces, who mistook Nelson’s satellite transmitter for an espionage device and detained the bird.
Forces loyal to the government believed that the GPS tracker attached to the bird may have been a spy device for the rebels.
Hisham Al-Hoot, who represents the FWFF in Yemen, traveled from the rebel-held capital Sanaa to Taiz to plead with local officials to release the helpless animal.
“It took about 12 days to get the bird,” he told AFP.
“The Bulgarian foreign ministry reached out to the Yemeni ambassador, who in turn contacted local officials (in Taiz) and told them to immediately give the organization the vulture.”
Hoot said that the bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen — where the FWFF lost track of the bird.
Nelson was MIA until April 5, when the conservation group received hundreds of messages from Yemenis concerned about the creatures’ welfare.
Today, the locally-famous vulture is being properly fed and getting stronger every day.
“When we first took him, he was in very bad condition,” said Hoot, adding that the bird was underweight.
Smiling, he puts on gloves and carefully handles the majestic creature — blowing it a kiss.
Hoot said the bird will be released in two months when he believed Nelson will have regained his full strength and his wing — broken somewhere during his journey — will have healed.
“We thought at first it would take six months for him to heal, but now we don’t think it will be more than two months,” he said.
Hoot said that Nelson was not able to find any source of sustenance in Yemen.
“They can eat carcasses of dead animals, but now there is no more with the current situation of war.
“This is what forced him to come down and stopped him from completing his journey.”
The four-year conflict in Yemen has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, with millions facing famine.
The war escalated in March 2015 when a coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, intervened to bolster the efforts of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Since then, at least 10,000 people — most of them civilians — have been killed and more than 60,000 wounded, according to the World Health Organization. Other rights groups estimate the toll could be much higher.