Saudis ‘renew Yemen bombing’

November 15, 2009

SANAA, Yemen (Agencies) -- Shia rebels in northern Yemen say Saudi Arabia has carried out more bombing raids, targeting several villages along the border.

The rebels say Saudi planes also struck a mountainous area more than 10km inside Yemeni territory.
There's been no word on any casualties from the recent raids.
Earlier this week, the Saudi authorities said they would keep bombing northern Yemen until the rebels had pulled back from the border, BBC reported.
The rebels, known as the Houthis, say their grievance is with the Yemeni government, and that Saudi Arabia should stay out of the conflict.
----‘Fresh offensive’----
A Saudi government official said on Thursday that Saudi forces were using air power and artillery to enforce a 10km-deep buffer zone inside northern Yemen to keep the rebels away from the border.
Riyadh had previously claimed troops were only attacking the rebels inside Saudi territory.
The Houthi rebels are drawn from the Zaidi Shia community, who are a minority in Yemen but make up the majority in the north of the country.
They first took up arms against the government in 2004, saying they wanted greater autonomy and a greater role for their version of Shia Islam. They complain that their community is discriminated against.
The Yemeni government launched a fresh offensive against the Houthis in August 2009, which has precipitated a new wave of intense fighting.
Meanwhile, The UN Children's Fund UNICEF said Friday that 240 villages have reportedly been evacuated and more than 50 schools closed in Saudi Arabia after the conflict in North Yemen spilled over the border, AFP reported.
“UNICEF is deeply concerned about the escalation of the conflict in northern Yemen,” said UNICEF regional director for the Middle East Sigrid Kaag.
“Fighting has now spilled over into Saudi Arabia, reportedly causing 240 villages to be evacuated and more than 50 schools to be closed,” she added in a statement received in Geneva. Related article: Saudis huddle in tent cities.
Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday that it would keep up air strikes against Yemeni rebels until they pull back from its border.
Shiite Zaidi rebels said Saudi warplanes had continued to strike them in Yemen, a week after a rebel raid into Saudi territory sparked air and ground bombardment of their positions.
Yemeni forces launched “Operation Scorched Earth” against insurgents in the north of the country on August 11.
UNICEF said the number of displaced to al Mazraq camp in nothern Yemen's Hajjah governorate has more than doubled in four weeks to 15,000, while 28,000 more people who fled fighting were living outside the camp.
“The total number of people displaced by the conflict since 2004 has gone up to more than 175,000, from an estimated 150,000 only a few weeks ago,” added Kaag, while malnutrition was reaching “alarming levels” in Yemen.
“UNICEF urges all parties to ensure that children are protected from violence and receive all the assistance they need,” said Kaag