What’s happening in Yemen today
4.2.2015 edition: UN says 519 killed, more in Aden, Yemenis report news sites are blocked
By the Reported.ly Team
Sokotra Island in Yemen. (Nacho Benvenuty/flickr via Creative Commons)
We are creating a daily rundown of events in Yemen as Saudi Arabian-led airstrikes against Houthis that began March 26 continue. The Houthi militia has been fighting the Yemeni government for nearly a decade, and in recent months has made enormous gains across the country, including capturing the capital, Sana’a.
For an explanation of what happened in the first few days of the military action, read our synopsis.
Update 6:02 p.m. PT (1:02 a.m. GMT)
Aden under fire
Aden continued to deteriorate overnight, with more gunfire and attacks.
“A lot of dead bodies are still spread around the streets as it is not safe to go out to clear them,” a local journalist told Al Jazeera.
Brig. Gen Ahmed Asiri admitted in a press briefing that Houthis have entered the city’s downtown, but staunchly said reports of Houthi control are incorrect and a play to the media. He added Houthis are “pretending that they are controlling the city,” but only control a few pockets.
UN: 519 killed in fighting
UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, released a statement indicating 519 people have been killed and nearly 1,700 injured since the airstrikes began.
Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir: We had “no choice”
Earlier today, Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir spoke at an event in Washington, D.C.
He said Saudi Arabia and others “had no choice but to respond to the call of the legitimate president of Yemen.”
Al-Jubeir also denied the coalition had hit the refugee camp or dairy factory. In regards to Aden, the ambassador indicated there are “no formal troops” in Aden.
Yemenis continue to report blocked news websites
An earlier report to Andadolu Agency indicated that many news web sites had been blocked by Yemennet, a prominent Yemeni ISP.
Yemenis told us today that they are still without access to many news sites.
Islah announces support of airstrikes
Islah, associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen, declared its support for the airstrikes.
“We hope that this process will restore things to normal and proper track,” read an official statement.
186 Pakistanis evacuated
Pakistan sent two ships and planes to evacuate Pakistani nationals from Yemen.
Another 145 are still awaiting evacuation.
Update: 1:51 p.m. PT (8:52 p.m. GMT)
Confirmed: Mukalla attacks by Al Qaeda
Al Qaeda militants freed about 300 inmates from a Yemeni jail (including some compatriots) in Mukalla, as confirmed by AP. They also seized other government buildings in the process.
Unclear if Aden’s presidential palace has been taken, 44 were killed in clashes
Al Arabiya and others reported that the presidential palace in Aden has been taken by Houthis, but that report was later denied. It is very unclear the status of the palace in Aden, though clashes there have been frequent.
AFP says at least 44 were killed in Thursday’s fighting In Aden.
Shiite rebels have also reached the center of the city. There were witnesses reports to Reuters of ground troops disembarking in Aden. These were later disputed by others, claiming Aden official source that a Chinese warship came under fire while evacuating foreign nationals, and was mistaken for invasion.
Historic sites bombed
The historic Sira Fortress in Aden was reportedly bombed. The fortress was an original guart post for Aden and is thounsands of years old.