US and UK envoys urge peace in Yemen after blast kills at least 17

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US and British diplomats urged the Iran-backed Houthis to end an offensive in northern Yemen on Sunday after at least 17 people were killed in an explosion which the internationally recognized government blamed on a Houthi missile strike.

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Among those killed in Saturday’s explosion near a petrol station in Marib City was a five-year-old girl who was charred beyond recognition. Reuters TV footage showed the partially covered bodies of the child and a man, who the interior ministry said was her father, lying in a military hospital.

Medical sources at the hospital told Reuters on Sunday that the death toll had risen to 21 after authorities earlier put it at 17.

The internationally recognized Yemeni government, which has been battling the Houthis for over six years, said the blast - which wrecked the petrol station and gutted cars - was caused by a Houthi missile.

The group, which ousted the government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014 has not commented.

Marib has become the focal point of the war since the Houthis launched an offensive to seize the gas-rich region, the government’s last stronghold in northern Yemen.

“This inhuman violence must end,” Cathy Westley, charge d’affaires at the US embassy, said in a statement.

The British ambassador to Yemen, Michael Aron, said on Twitter that serious engagement by the Houthis with UN efforts to secure a nationwide ceasefire would “prevent such tragic losses”.

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