AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthi militia on Sunday launched seven missiles at the central Yemeni city of Marib, local officials said, as fighters also intensified ground attacks to seize control of new territory across Yemen.
A military official told Arab News that seven missiles fired by the Houthis ripped through different neighborhoods in Marib, killing and wounding many civilians and triggering explosions that shook the city.
Residents reported hearing more than 10 explosions across the city on Sunday morning as local authorities announced that five Houthi missiles had hit the city.
Hours later, the Houthi launched two more missiles, causing further destruction.
Dozens of civilians have been killed in densely populated Marib since early last year when the Houthis scaled up missile, drone and ground attacks on the city as part of a renewed major offensive to control the government’s last major urban bastion in the northern half of the country.
Similarly, three students were wounded on Saturday when an explosive-laden drone fired by the Houthis hit a school in Marib’s Hareb district, local authorities said, adding that the students were leaving the building when the drone exploded.
In neighboring Shabwa province, three soldiers were killed and 14 more wounded on Saturday when a Houthi missile hit a mosque inside Al-Alem military base during evening prayer, a local official told Arab News.
Local officials said that the Yemeni army troops continue to disregard a three-year-old circular from the Defense Ministry that asks soldiers whose bases are close to the battlefields to avoid congregating during prayers.
“The soldiers were told to pray individually,” an anonymous military official told Arab News, adding that the notices were issued in January 2019 in the wake of a Houthi missile attack on Marib that killed more than 100 soldiers.
“The Houthis see those worshipers as infidels who must be killed,” the official said.
Last month, a Houthi missile strike on a mosque killed at least four soldiers and wounded many others in Shabwa’s Ouselan district.
Another missile attack on a mosque last month killed and wounded at least 20 soldiers inside a military base in the southern province of Abyan.
On Sunday, a Houthi missile struck a school in a remote village in Hayran district, in the northern province of Hajjah.
Local officials said that the missile partially destroyed the school and would have killed many students if it had struck the building hours earlier.
Yemeni officials strongly condemned Houthi missile and drone strikes on mosques and civilian buildings across the country.
“The Houthi militia continues the killing of civilians in various regions before the international community, which is failing to condemn these terrorist acts, or fulfill its legal, humanitarian and moral mandate to protect civilians, and ensure the perpetrators of horrific crimes do not go unpunished,” Yemen Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, on the ground, heavy fighting between government troops and Houthis broke out on Saturday and Sunday in the provinces of Marib and Hajjah after the militia launched consecutive aggressive counterattacks to seize back strategic locations held by Yemeni government troops.
A local military official told Arab News on Sunday that army troops and allied tribal fighters engaged in fighting with the Houthis around Um Resh military camp and other locations in Juba district, south of Marib.
Army troops on Sunday announced that 10 Houthi explosive-rigged drones fired at government troops in the Haradh and Abes districts of Hajjah had been shot down over the past day as the militia intensified attacks to recapture territory.
In Saada province, the Houthi movement’s heartland, army troops seized control of strategic hilly locations after an attack in Al-Safra district.