Car bomb explodes near Yemeni mosque in downtown Sanaa

As violence continues, the U.N. is aiming for pause in Yemen fighting for humanitarian relief

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A car bomb exploded near a mosque in the downtown area of the Yemeni capital on Thursday, causing casualties, witness said.

They said the blast occurred near the headquarters of the central bank but the target was the nearby mosque. They gave no details on whether the casualties were wounded or killed.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has alerted aid groups to be prepared for a possible humanitarian pause in fighting in Yemen, starting as early as Friday, that would allow them to deliver assistance to some of the 21 million people in need.

A Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Arab states has been bombing the Iranian-allied Houthi militia since late March in a bid to restore to power Yemen’s elected president, who is backed by neighboring Saudi Arabia and has fled to Riyadh.

A senior U.N. aid official in Yemen wrote in an email to aid groups, sent on Wednesday and seen by Reuters, that U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon “is calling for the pause to start as soon as this Friday, 3 July.” U.N. special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is currently in Jeddah to meet with Saudi officials, the U.N. said.

Yemen relies on imports but a near total blockade led by Saudi Arabia has slowed shipments to the war-torn Arabian Peninsula country to a trickle. The Arab coalition is inspecting shipments in a bid to thwart any arms deliveries to the Houthis.

“The Secretary-General is doing all he can to advocate for a humanitarian pause during Ramadan, to allow humanitarian actors to scale up their efforts in providing much needed assistance across the country,” the official wrote.

The United Nations on Wednesday raised Yemen to its highest level humanitarian crisis, placing it alongside emergencies in South Sudan, Syria and Iraq. More than 80 percent of Yemenis need help in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.

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