Huge plumes of smoke rise above buildings during airstrikes allegedly carried out by the Saudi-led alliance on a weapons storage depot in Sanaa, Yemen, March 30, 2015. [Photo/IC]
SANAA/RIYADH – Days of Saudi-backed airstrikes against Yemen’s Shiite Houthi group has seen accumulated chaos and bloodshed as more countries have moved to evacuate their nationals from the crisis-engulfed Middle East nation.
In capital Sanaa, as well as in other key provinces, bombing has become almost a daily routine since the air campaign was launched almost a week ago.
The air raids kept going around the clock on weapons depots and missiles bases on mountains overlooking the capital, as well as al-Dailami Airforce Base in northern Sanaa.
Huge explosions rocked the capital as smoke and fire could be seen at the targeted sites. There is no immediate report on casualties.
Official Saba news agency, which is controlled by the Houthis, reported Saturday that death toll from the airstrikes over the past four days rose to 48, with 157 injured.
The ten-nation coalition bombed on Monday a local displaced refugee camp in northern Yemen, killing more than 40 people and injuring 250 others, said Yemen’s defense ministry, which is controlled by the Houthi militias.
The ministry said that there are 4,000 people sheltering in the camp, which is located at al-Mazrak area in Haradh district on the northwest borders with Saudi Arabia. The casualties included women and children, the ministry added without providing further details.
However, Yemen’s fleeing government accused the Houthis of being responsible for the deaths of those innocent civilians.
Militants loyal to Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi take their positions in Taiz, Yemen, March 30, 2015. [Photo/IC]
Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin, who is now in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, blamed the Houthi fighters for an airstrike on the camp, and denied the raid has anything to do with the coalition’s operations.
Yaseen told reporters that the explosion on the camp was caused by Houthi fighters’ artillery strikes, adding that his government has no contact with the Houthi militias since the start of air strikes late on Wednesday night.
Also on Monday, military spokesman Brigadier Ahmed Al Asiri told a daily press briefing that Saudi Arabia now has the full control of all of Yemen’s sea ports, Al Arabiya news reported.
All arriving and departing ships will be screened under the blockade, said the report.
The maritime move is considered to prevent the Houthis from receiving any kind of manpower and material supplies entering the country from the sea, yet the official source said nothing has been intercepted yet.
The spokesperson also said the Houthis tried to launch a ballistic missile strike from Sanaa against a Saudi center in the border area, but failed due to technical malfunction, adding that the coalition forces rushed to the area and destroyed the site.
The spokesperson said the coalition forces are now focusing on slowing down Houthis’ march towards Aden, and destroying all ballistic missiles.
The coalition, headed-by Riyadh, has been trying to restore the rule of Yemeni President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is now in Saudi Arabia and was forced to flee the country by the Houthi group.
The Houthis, the Zaidi branch of Shiite Islam, said their actions are to battle against the expansion of Salafism in Yemen, and for the defense of their Shiite community from widespread and systematic discrimination from Hadi’s government. In turn, Sanaa accused the militant of intending to overthrow the government to build a Shiite country.
Saudi Arabia has also charged Iran of trying to have a bigger say in the region by financing and arming the Houthi group, while both Tehran and the Shiite group have refuted the claims.
A black pall of smoke rises from an alleged weapons storage depot at a military camp of Houthi rebels after an airstrike of the Saudi-led alliance, in Sanaa, Yemen, March 30, 2015. [Photo/IC]
Yemen’s worsening security situations have prompted more countries to decide to pull their nationals away from the deepening crisis.
A total of 449 Chinese nationals left the Yemeni coastal city of Al-Hodayda on Monday aboard a Chinese navy frigate.
Six people of other nationalities were also on board Weifang, which is heading for Djibouti.
On Sunday, 122 other Chinese nationals were evacuated from the Yemeni city of Aden and have already arrived in Djibouti.
The Chinese embassy in Sanaa remains open and will continue to assist a small number of Chinese nationals who choose to stay in Yemen.
In Jakarta, Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said on Monday that the government will send planes to evacuate its nationals from the war-torn country, and has asked Oman and Saudi Arabia to help secure the evacuation.
“Within the next one or two days there will be deployment from Jakarta to help prepare the evacuation,” the minister added.
Indonesia has been gradually pulling out its nationals from Yemen since early this month. As of now 148 people have returned from Yemen following the political turmoil in the country.