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AFP

Yemen's Houthis committed 'possible war crimes'

Civilians in Aden have been forced to flee from the fighting (Anadolu)

Date of publication: 7 May, 2015

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Rights group Human Rights Watch said Thursday that Houthi militiamen may have committed war crimes in the southern Yemeni city of Aden.

Human Rights Watch on Thursday accused the Houthis of committing "possible war crimes" in Yemen and urged all parties in the conflict to protect civilians.

The New York-based watchdog said the Houthis, who are allied to Yemeni army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, shot and killed two women in the main southern city of Aden last month and also unlawfully detained 10 local aid workers for up to two weeks.

"The incidents, possible war crimes, exemplify the grave threats to civilians in the embattled southern seaport," said HRW.

Its deputy Middle East and North Africa director Joe Stork warned that "the difficulty of investigating the fighting in Yemen may mean abuses like these in Aden are just the tip of the iceberg".

He urged all fighters on the ground as well as the Saudi-led coalition carrying out air strikes against rebel positions across Yemen "to take steps to abide by the laws of war".

At least 38 civilians were killed Wednesday and 95 were wounded, including women and children, when shelling hit people trying to escape Aden by sea, according to a new toll given by city health chief Al-Khader Laswar.

Health officials and a spokesman for local resistance fighters blamed the rebels for the shelling.

The local Aden resistance, including military units and militia fighters, have been battling Houthi-Saleh forces for weeks in Aden.

They have been backed by air strikes from a Saudi-led coalition that has imposed an air and naval blockade on the country. Saudi Arabia has proposed a five-day humanitarian ceasefire in Yemen to allow aid deliveries, and has called on the Houthis to accept the offer.

"Aden's civilians are already in dire straits, without being attacked, detained, and held hostage," Stork said.

"Leaders of the Houthis and other forces need to protect civilians, not abuse and terrorise them."

The rebels have been battling to take control of Aden's Tawahi neighbourhood, which houses the headquarters of Aden TV, which supports exiled Yemeni president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Laswar said five more civilians were killed overnight in "random rebel shelling on their homes in Tawahi".

A military source meanwhile said that five Houthi rebels were killed in an ambush in Aden on Thursday.

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