Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Violence continued in Yemen’s northern Saada province on Sunday, with at least three people reported dead and another 12 wounded in the town of Dammaj in fighting between Salafists and Houthis.
Thousands of Yemenis gathered on Saturday outside President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s home to protest the violence, which has continued for two months despite mediation efforts by the central government.
Shi’a Houthis have been battling Sunni Salafists in Dammaj, accusing the latter of stockpiling weapons and recruiting foreigners in preparation for sectarian attacks. The Salafists deny the claims.
The protesters outside the president’s home carried banners condemning what they said was “Houthi aggression.” The protestors urged the president and his government to act quickly to put an end to the bombings in Dammaj. They also demanded free access to the area for media outlets to allow them to report on events on the ground.
Others criticized the governor of Saada province, Faris Mohamed Mana’a. The protestors accused Mana’a of siding with the Houthis and called for his immediate dismissal.
Human rights organizations, many of whom participated in the protest movement, said that an estimated 120 people have been killed so far and roughly another 240 have been injured since Houthis began bombarding Dammaj. They also pointed out the destructive effects of the bombings on infrastructure, including damage to mosques, the sole civilian hospital in the area, as well as the destruction of water wells.
Protestors also called for the formation of special committee to investigate alleged war crimes committed by Houthi militias in Saada.
Meanwhile, in southern Yemen, reports emerged of a series of air strikes by the Yemeni military against targets linked to Al-Qaeda.
Yemen’s Air Force reportedly launched a series of airstrikes targeting areas in the Mahfad District of Abyan province. The military suspects that factions linked to Al-Qaeda are currently hiding in the southern region.
Sources claimed that there have been many casualties and fatalities as a result of these raids, which are part of ongoing operations, since many militants have fled to the remote and mountainous territories of Abyan, Shabwah, Hadhramaut, Ma’rib, and other neighboring provinces.