Yemen’s Houthi rebels release six foreign hostages

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Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have released six foreign hostages after months in captivity, an official in the rebel movement said Sunday.

The hostages left the rebel-held Yemeni capital Sana’a for Oman aboard a plane with a Houthi team, according to the official.

They were released through Omani mediation, the official added on condition of anonymity.

He did not identify their nationalities.

According to Saudi-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya, the hostages – three Americans, one Briton and two Saudi nationals – had been held for six months by the rebels in Sana’a.

In March, Saudi Arabia and its fellow Sunni partners began an air campaign in Yemen after the mostly Shiite rebels advanced on the southern city of Aden, forcing internationally recognized President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi to flee the country.

Oman is not a member of the Saudi-led military coalition and has hosted several indirect talks in recent months aimed at ending the Yemeni conflict.

Saudi Arabia has vowed not to stop the campaign until Hadi, a Sunni, is reinstated.

The president is currently in Saudi Arabia.

In June, pro-Hadi forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition drove the Houthis out of Aden and have since intensified fight to recapture other rebel-controlled areas in Yemen.

At least 15 people were killed and 50 wounded on Sunday in two airstrikes by the allied jets against a rebel stronghold in western Yemen, a security official said.

The bombing targeted a rebel-held security building housing a prison in the province of Ibb, around 193 kilometres south of Sana’a.

“Following the first air raid, security men evacuated dozens of prisoners from the building,” the official said. “The second raid completely destroyed the building.”

Policemen, prisoners and civilians who happened to be in the building were among the dead and injured.

No comment was given by the coalition.

More than 4,500 people have been killed in Yemen’s conflict since March, UN agencies said.

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