Yemeni rebels break govt’s unilateral ceasefire

Aid group says thousands of civilians displaced

Published:

Yemen’s Huthi rebels broke a government’ unilateral ceasefire early on Saturday and continued their attacks north of the country making more difficult efforts of aid groups to provide safety to thousands of displaced civilians.

Hours after the government said it had suspended its operations in the north of the country to allow access for aid groups, the rebels launched several attacks in the al-Malahid district of the war-wracked Saada province in the north of the country.

The attacks resulted in heavy exchange of fire with government forces which is feared to further impede the work of the aid groups striving to provide food and shelter for thousands of displaces civilians.

The government had announced late on Friday a unilateral ceasefire that took effect at 18:00 GMT resulting in relative calm, military officials and witnesses told AFP by telephone from the rugged Saada province where the offensive to crush the Zaidi rebels was launched three weeks ago.

"(This is) in response to the calls of international aid organizations and the demands of men and women in Saada so that those displaced in camps because of the strife caused by the subversives and rebels receive supplies," a spokesman of the Supreme Security Committee said in a statement on the ruling party website.

This is in response to the calls of international aid organizations and the demands of men and women in Saada

a spokesman of the Supreme Security Committee

The decision came hours after the military said three leaders of the rebellion were killed in a dawn attack in Malaheez, a hideout in Saada province.

The suspension follows an announcement by the rebels stating their "undertaking to halt attacks on the armed forces" and "remove mines, explosives and roadblocks," it added.

In a statement Friday to AFP, the Zaidi rebels said they were ready to cooperate with a UN plan for a "humanitarian corridor" to allow aid into the areas where fighting is taking place.

Humanitarian crisis

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has said Saada city is practically cut off from the outside world, and called for humanitarian corridors to allow people out and aid in.

"The situation is deteriorating by the day," a UNHCR said last month, estimating that more than 35,000 people have been displaced since fighting broke out.

On Wednesday rebel leader Abdel-Malek al-Huthi threatened a war of attrition after the government refused his offer of a truce.

"The authorities have missed the chance" to end the confrontation and "they will be responsible for the consequences of the war," he said.

Thousands of people have been killed and the UNHCR estimates 150,000 have been displaced since 2004, when fighting between rebels and government forces first broke out.

The authorities have missed the chance

Huthi rebels