Dubai: More than 80 Yemeni soldiers have been killed and scores injured in a missile and drone attack blamed on Houthi rebels in central Yemen, medical and military sources said Sunday.
Saturday’s strike follows months of relative calm in the war between the Iran-backed Houthis and Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which is backed by a Saudi-led military coalition.
The Houthis attacked a mosque in a military camp in the central province of Marib — about 170 kilometers (105 miles) east of the capital Sanaa — during evening prayers, military sources told AFP.
A medical source at a Marib city hospital, where the casualties were transported, said that 83 soldiers were killed and 148 injured in the strike.
Death tolls in Yemen’s grinding conflict are often disputed, but the huge toll in Marib represents one of the bloodiest single attacks since the war erupted in 2014 when the rebels seized Sanaa.
The drone and missile strike came a day after coalition-backed government forces launched a large-scale operation against the Houthis in the Nihm region, north of Sanaa.
Fighting in Nihm was ongoing on Sunday, a military source said according to the official Saba news agency.
“Dozens from the (Houthi) militia were killed and injured,” the source added.
Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi condemned the “cowardly and terrorist” attack on the mosque, Saba reported.
“The disgraceful actions of the Houthi militia without a doubt confirm its unwillingness to (achieve) peace, because it knows nothing but death and destruction and is a cheap Iranian tool in the region,” it quoted Hadi as saying.
The president also stressed the importance of increasing military vigilance “to foil hostile and destructive plans and maintain security and stability.”
The Houthis did not make any immediate claim of responsibility and the Saba report did not give a death toll.