Saudi-backed Yemeni gov't strongly condemns deadly Houthi drone strike

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ADEN, Yemen, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- The Saudi-backed Yemeni government strongly condemned the deadly drone strike carried out by the Iranian-backed Houthi group against a military parade in the southern province of Lahj on Thursday.

In a statement carried out by state-run Saba news agency, the government described the attack as a blatant challenge to the international community.

The government called upon the international community to take firm stances against the Houthi rebels who repeatedly breached the cease-fire and refused to abide by the agreement reached in Sweden.

The drone attack was a clear indication that the Houthis are rejecting ongoing efforts aimed at ending the conflict peacefully through political negotiations, according to the government.

The government ordered the Intelligence Services and the Fourth Regional Military Command to investigate the incident and provide a detailed report to the president.

Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) minister of state for foreign affairs, also condemned the Houthi attack and urged the international community to increase pressure on the rebels.

"Peace negotiations are a tactic to them instead of a commitment. There have been 464 cease-fire violations, 36 killed and 318 wounded since the Stockholm agreement," Gargash said on his official Twitter account.

Security sources confirmed to Xinhua that the Houthi rebels used an Iranian-made drone and shelled a military parade held for batches of new army graduates at the Anad military air base in Lahj.

The attack killed at least six soldiers and injured 20 others including high-ranking commanders.

According to the sources, the army's Chief of Staff Abdullah Nakhi, his deputy Saleh Zindani, and Lahj Governor Ahmad Abdullah Turki were slightly injured and moved immediately to the neighboring province of Aden for treatment.

The Houthis said through their official media that the drone attack on the military parade in Lahj came as a "response to the continued raids of Saudi aggression targeting innocent citizens."

The Anad military air base lies some 60 km north of Yemen's temporary capital of Aden and witnessed several attacks by the Houthis including a missile attack last year.

The drone attack is likely to deal a blow toward a cease-fire in the port city of Hodeidah on the Red Sea coast, where warring factions blamed each other for repeated violations that have been reported since the truce went into effect on Dec. 18, 2018.

The impoverished Arab country has been locked in a civil war since the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels overran much of the country militarily and seized all northern provinces, including the capital Sanaa, in 2014.

Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after Houthi rebels forced him into exile.

The United Nations has listed Yemen as the country suffering the world's top humanitarian crisis, where 7 million citizens have been pushed to the brink of famine. Enditem

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