LONDON: A convoy of UN ceasefire monitors in Yemen was hit with small arms fire in eastern Hodeidah Thursday in an attack blamed on the Houthi militia.
A car was hit with one round as they returned to the city center from a meeting with a delegation from the legitimate Yemeni government, a UN spokesman said.
"We do not have information as to the source of the fire," Stephane Dujarric said.
The attack on the monitors, led by Retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, was "a significant development,” Yemeni government spokesman Rajih Bady said, accusing the Houthis of being responsible.
The UN said Cammaert and his team were safe following the "reported shooting incident."
Patrick Cammaert and team are safe in Hodeida following reported shooting incident. More information to come later.#Yemen
— UN Spokesperson (@UN_Spokesperson) January 17, 2019
Cammaert, who is the the head of the UN mission in Yemen charged with monitoring the Hodeidah ceasefire, was not in the vehicle that was hit and he and his team returned to their base safely, Dujarric said.
"I can assure you that general Cammaert and his team are supplied with the strongest possible security measures the UN can supply," he said.
"But it is important to add that all the parties in Yemen are also responsible for the safety of all UN personnel in Yemen. We are dealing with a highly volatile environment in Hodeidah."
Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the US Prince Khalid bin Salman said: "KSA strongly condemns the targeting of UN personnel by the Iran backed Houthi militia in Yemen, who have violated their signed commitments in Stockholm and continue to flout International Law and escalate their aggression against the Yemeni people," in a tweet on Friday.
Cammaert has been in Hodeidah since late December trying to get the internationally recognized government and the Houthi militia to strengthen a cease-fire negotiated in Sweden last month and agree to arrangements for the redeployment of their forces.
Earlier, the Houthis prevented Cammaert, head of the Joint Coordination Committee, to monitor the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement, from leaving his residence to meet representatives of the Yemeni government, Al Arabiya reported.
A source in the committee explained that a meeting was scheduled to take place between Cammaert and government representatives at a designated site in Hodeidah.
The UN Security Council approved this week to bolster the mission with a deployment of up to 75 monitors.
The unarmed monitors would be sent to the Hodeidah and its port along with the ports of Saleef and Ras Issa for an initial period of six months.
The port of Hodeida is the entry point for the bulk of Yemen's supplies of imported goods and humanitarian aid.
Talks between the government and Houthis last month in Sweden on ending the devastating war led to an agreement on the observer force.
The first group of about 20 monitors was authorized by the council last month to begin work in Yemen, but their mandate expires on Jan. 20.
The new resolution calls on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to "expeditiously" deploy the United Nations Mission to support the Hodeida Agreement (UNMHA).
The UN says a ceasefire that went into force on Dec. 18 in Hodeida has been generally holding, but there have been delays in the redeployment of rebel and government forces from the city.