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Saudi-led Airstrikes Hit Yemen's Houthi Rebels

  • Edward Yeranian

A Houthi rebel fighter walks on a street littered by debris following a Saudi-led airstrike in Yemen's capital, Sana'a, April 20, 2015.

A Houthi rebel fighter walks on a street littered by debris following a Saudi-led airstrike in Yemen's capital, Sana'a, April 20, 2015.

A Saudi-led coalition launched more airstrikes overnight in Yemen, including one that caused a giant explosion, with reports of at least 25 people killed.

Amateur video showed a giant ball of fire, followed by a massive explosion, after a coalition airstrike on an arms depot outside the Yemeni capital, Sana'a.

The Houthi militia group's Al Masira TV showed live video of a giant mushroom cloud hanging over the skies of the capital, several hours later. Amateur video also showed buildings burning and homes, shops and vehicles demolished by the force of the blast.

Rubble and dead bodies were strewn along some streets.

The Indonesian Embassy building was also badly damaged by the force of the blast. Three people, including two diplomats, were injured by flying debris.

Embassy damaged

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi condemned the bomb attack in a press conference, later Monday. She said the building itself is still intact, but the windows are all broken and the roof is ruined, She added that while the embassy was not the target, it was affected by the bombing.

Saudi military spokesman General Ahmed Asiri said in Riyadh Monday that the coalition was targeting arms depots that the Houthis had set up in various places after taking various government military stocks.

Asiri said the Houthis stole military equipment from the government after they seized power and moved it to caves, farms, houses and elsewhere. He warned Yemeni tribal leaders to help find the material or it will be targeted.

Yemeni media with ties to the Houthis claimed the Saudi-led coalition used banned weapons containing depleted uranium. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV reported the airstrike detonated a stock of SCUD missiles and other rockets in a Houthi arms depot.

Yemen acting Health Minister Dr. Ghazi Ismail told Yemeni media the blast caused numerous casualties.

Ismail said at least 30 people were killed and more than 350 wounded by shrapnel, flying debris, glass and smoke inhalation.

The Houthi TV report showed what it said were victims of Saudi-led airstrikes being treated at a hospital in Sana'a. The report urged Yemenis to donate blood to cope with casualties from recent airstrikes.

The head of the Houthi militia group, Abdel Malek al Houthi, said in a televised address the Yemeni people had a right to fight back against what he called outside aggression. He said his group is fighting to rid Yemen of al-Qaida.

He said al-Qaida is a threat to the north and the south of Yemen, and that it now controls parts of the country. He said his fighters are trying to help Yemenis in the south defeat the group.

Peace talks

Acting Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yasin, who is loyal to internationally recognized Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, told a news conference in Kuwait the Houthis are to blame for the “widespread destruction of Yemen's infrastructure.”

Yasin said the Houthi militias were attacking civilians in a chaotic fashion in the cities of Taiz and Aden and were arresting people for no reason. He added that Yemenis understand why the Saudi-led coalition is waging the current battle.

Yasin also denounced a four-point peace plan by Iran, urging Yemenis to “sit down for national dialogue talks” in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi military spokesman Asiri told journalists late Sunday that coalition aircraft had flown 2,300 sorties in the 25 days of military operations over Yemen.

He said large caches of Houthi weapons had been destroyed and that a second stage of operations is beginning to “prevent the Houthis from being able to move around.”

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