DUBAI: More than 100 Yemeni soldiers were killed and scores injured in a missile and drone assault in central Yemen blamed for Huthi rebels, medical and military sources said Sunday.
The attack on Saturday follows months of relative calm in the conflict between the internationally recognized government of the Huthis and Yemen.
The Huthis targeted a mosque in a military camp in Marib’s central province about 170 kilometers (105 miles) east of Sanaa capital during prayers at night, military sources told media.
A medical source at a Marib City Hospital, where the victims were being evacuated, said 100 soldiers were killed and 148 wounded in the attack.
Death tolls in the grinding conflict in Yemen are often disputed, but Marib’s huge list of casualties represents one of the bloodiest single attacks since the war broke out in 2014 when the rebels seized Sanaa.
Saudi-owned Al-Hadath television broadcast a video showing the horrific aftermath of the attack, it said. Parts of the body can be seen on the floor, amid torn debris and on the carpet with blood spilled and spattered against the walls.
The drone and missile attack came a day after a large-scale operation against the Huthis launched by coalition-backed government forces in the Nihm area, north of Sanaa. Fighting in Nihm began on Sunday, according to official news agency Saba, a military source said
“Dozens from the (Huthi) militia were killed and injured,” the source added. Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi condemned the “cowardly and terrorist” attack on the mosque, Saba reported.
“The disgraceful actions of the Huthi militia without a doubt confirm its unwillingness to (achieve) peace, because it knows nothing but death and destruction and is a cheap Iranian tool in the region,” it quoted Hadi as saying.
The president also emphasized the importance of increased military readiness “to disrupt hostile and disruptive plans and preserve security and stability.”
The Huthis made no immediate assertion of responsibility and the Saba report gave no death toll.
The rise in violence comes shortly after UN envoy Martin Griffiths accepted a substantial decline in air strikes and ground force movement.
“We are surely, and I hope this is true and I hope it will remain so, witnessing one of the quietest periods of this conflict,” he said in a briefing to the UN Security Council on Thursday
“Experience however tells us that military de-escalation cannot be sustained without political progress between the parties, and this has become the next challenge.”