Fighting grips south Yemen as Saudi coalition bombs capital

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SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Heavy clashes erupted in southern Yemen on Thursday while a Saudi-led coalition carried out airstrikes on the capital, Sanaa, leaving at least six dead, including four children, in the city's residential center, officials said.

The Sanaa airstrikes came after Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who control the capital, launched a drone attack earlier in the week on a critical oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia, Tehran's biggest rival in the region.

The renewed air campaign on Sanaa — which had remained calm over the past months — also came as the Houthis are pushing to gain more territory from coalition-backed government forces in the country's southern Dhale governorate.

Yemen's human rights minister, Mohammed Askar, told reports Thursday that weeks-long fighting in Dhale has killed over 27 civilians and displaced around 10,000 people.

Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war pitting the Houthis against the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, since March 2015.

In Sanaa's al-Raqas neighborhood where Thursday's strikes hit, smoke rose from the rubble of several houses.

An entire family — a father, his child and wife — was killed under the rubble. The rebel-controlled health ministry said 41 people were also wounded, including two women with Russian nationality.

Dust, pieces of glass, metal, and debris were strewn on the streets and covered cars parked in the neighborhood. Windows on nearby buildings were shattered. Men and women, many without traditional black abayas that Muslim women wear over their clothes, had run out onto the street, fearing more bombings.

A Sanaa resident, Ahmed al-Kori, said he and his entire family of six were woken up by the bombing to find themselves covered by debris. "We don't know how we hit the ground," al-Kori said.

The war in Yemen has killed over 70,000 people, including combatants, and pushed the country's already impoverished population to the verge of famine.

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