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Saudi air strikes mistakenly kill 30 pro-govt troops in Yemen

Saudi air strikes mistakenly kill 30 pro-govt troops in Yemen

SANAA: Air strikes from the Saudi-led coalition targeting Yemen’s Shia rebels mistakenly struck a pro-government military enca­mpment, killing at least 30 fighters and wounding severs others in the latest instance of friendly fire in the anti-rebel camp, security officials said on Saturday.

The fighters had just wrestled the encampment from the Houthis in the southern Taiz province when air strikes hit them, pro-government security officials said.

“They thought the Houthis were still there,” one pro-government security official said.

Ground commanders have repeatedly complained of slow communication with military leadership in Riyadh, the officials added.

Yemen’s fighting pits the Houthis and allied army units against forces loyal to the coalition-backed internationally recognised government as well as southern separatists and other militants.

Also on Saturday, Saudi air strikes killed 13 Houthis in the massive desert province of Jawf, neutral security officials there said. The strikes are part of a plan to seize the northern province in order to advance on the Houthi heartland of Sadaa, pro-government officials said.

A day earlier, gunmen on a motorcycle killed an Emirati officer in the southern port city of Aden, the sixth assassination of pro-government troop leaders and officials there in recent weeks, pro-government security officials said.

The United Arab Emirates is part of the Saudi-led coalition, which has been pounding rebel positions since March.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, pro-government officials said they suspect Sunni extremists, who they say have made land grabs, exploiting the chaos engulfing the Arab world’s poorest country.

Yemen’s Al Qaeda is known to have used motorcycles in previous assassinations.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2015

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