AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni government officials, local rights groups and public figures have strongly condemned the bombing of a health facility by Houthi militias in the southern city of Taiz on Saturday.
The international community has also been urged to hold the Iran-backed Houthis accountable for the attack in the densely-populated city.
“The Houthis have been heavily shelling different parts of Taiz during the last three days,” Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni Army spokesman in Taiz, told Arab News on Sunday.
Residents, government bodies and an international charity said on Saturday that a barrage of mortar fire and shells hit Al-Amal hospital, a cancer facility in the eastern part of the city, injuring two health workers, damaging the building and spreading panic among medical workers.
“Today in Taiz, the Al-Amal Clinic that is located next to the MSF-supported Yemeni Swedish Hospital was hit by heavy weapons, which resulted in the injuring of a hospital staff member,” Medecins Sans Frontieres said in a statement, adding that patients were sent to lower areas of the hospital to avoid incoming fire.
The provincial office of the Ministry of Human Rights said Houthis deliberately targeted the clinic and other civilian targets in Taiz, adding that the hospital is a well-known landmark in the area. “This is a crime against humanity that necessitates international action towards the systematic crimes committed by Houthi militias in Taiz over the last six years,” the office said in a statement.
Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Al-Aryani also blasted Houthis for the attack. “We strongly condemn the bombing by an Iranian-backed Houthi militia of the cancer center in Taiz, which treats 8,500 patients and receives 200 cases daily,” he tweeted on Saturday, calling upon the international community to take action. “We call on the World Health Organization and others to condemn this heinous crime that is part of ongoing crimes and violations by Houthis militias and deliberate targeting of civilians in Taiz and other liberated cities,” he said.
Local military officers told Arab News that Houthi tanks and machine guns on the eastern and northeastern edges of the city have intensified attacks on residential areas in Taiz under government control over the last three days, causing damage to schools, hospitals and homes.
“They are using modern weapons in their shelling. They fired dozens of shells daily at Taiz over the last three days,” Al-Baher said. Dozens of displaced families returned to their homes in Taiz in recent months after fighting and shelling previously subsided. But Al-Baher said the new attacks have prevented more people from returning, disrupted schooling in eastern parts of the city and caused panic. “They targeted civilian gatherings, properties and prevented students from going to school. The international community should condemn the shelling and the Houthi siege of Taiz.”
Despite their heavy bombardment of the city for the last several years, Houthis have largely failed to take control of downtown Taiz thanks to residents and local military units, who have pushed them back to the outskirts of the city.