Death Toll in Yemen Rises Rapidly as Conflict Rages

A Saudi Special Forces troop mans a gun in Aden, Yemen as they assist pro government forces on April 3, 2015.
A Saudi Special Forces troop mans a gun in Aden, Yemen as they assist pro government forces on April 3, 2015.

Residents of central Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, have learned the hard way that key strategic bombing targets are located in their neighborhoods. Detonating ordnance has been shattering their windows and doors.

And fighting has killed hundreds of people in less than two weeks.

The Saudi Arabian-led coalition smashed parts of Yemen’s Defense Ministry Central Command in the capital over the weekend, senior Yemeni officials said.

Yemen’s deposed President heaped scorn on top of the strikes. His former Army Chief of Staff Hussein Khairan had switched sides and is the Houthi rebels’ acting defense minister.

Holed up in Saudi Arabia, which is working to defeat his enemies and reinstall him, President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi fired Khairan on Sunday.

Under the rain of coalition bombs, the Houthis, who are Shiites in a majority Sunni country, still control Sanaa. But the airstrikes have hurt them and destroyed a lot of infrastructure.

The electricity has gone out on 16 million Yemenis living in Houthi held areas, the Yemeni officials said. Many fear they will lose access to clean water, as well.

Hundreds killed within days

And fighting has ended dozens of lives each day. On Monday, more than 50 people died in the port city of Aden alone, where Houthis and their allies are battling troops loyal to President Hadi on the ground, Agence France-Press reported.

Since the bombing campaign and intense fighting began just over a week ago, some 600 people are estimated to have been killed. Many more have been wounded, and tens of thousands have fled the country.

The International Confederation for the Red Cross has cried out for a humanitarian cease fire to let aid in.

“Otherwise, put starkly, many more people will die. For the wounded, their chances of survival depend on action within hours, not days,” Robert Mardini, the ICRC’s head of operations in the Near and Middle East, said.

“Medical supplies need to be here yesterday,” said ICRC spokeswoman Marie-Claire Feghali from Sanaa. “We need to save the lives that can be saved.”

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SOURCE: Ben Brumfield

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