ADEN/JEDDAH: Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen attacked and detained dozens of young people protesting on Saturday against plunging living standards and rising prices.
At least 55 students, 18 of them women, were arrested during the protests near Sanaa University.
One young woman said female Houthi supporters “attacked us with electric-shock batons and clubs, supported by armed men.
“They beat me until I fell to the ground and I received an electric shock in the back when I stood up again. I wasn’t able to move when they took me to the police station.”
The Houthis had admitted earlier that they would “beat and arrest” anyone taking part in demonstrations in the capital, after local activists called for a mass protest against inflation and food shortages.
The militias said on Saturday they had arrested a “number of people” in Sanaa for disturbing the peace. Those arrested were linked to pro-government forces and “were paid to spread rumors ... and destabilise security,” the Houthi-run Saba news agency said.
Prices in northern Yemen have soared since the Houthis ousted the internationally recognized government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in a coup in 2014. A Saudi-led Arab coalition has been fighting since 2015 to restore it.
Some staple goods have become too expensive for many Yemenis, and the central bank has struggled to pay the public-sector salaries on which many depend as foreign exchange reserves dwindle.
Many Yemenis also rely on international aid, but some agencies — most recently UNICEF, the UN children’s fund — have suspended payments amid allegations that the Houthis are diverting funds to their own supporters while genuinely deserving cases remain destitute.
Separately, the Foreign Ministry in Bahrain, part of the Saudi-led coalition, said the Houthis had shelled a camp for displaced people near the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Friday, “killing a woman and injuring a large number of civilians.”