At least 80 people, many of them civilians, have been killed in the Yemeni port of Aden as fighting rages between according to Houthi fighters and local supporters of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, rescue workers and residents.
The dead included at least 40 Yemeni civilians who were trying to flee heavy fighting in Aden on Wednesday when the Houthi fighters fired shells at their boat, rescue workers said.
The civilians were among about 50 people who were on the boat as it left the al-Tawahi district of Aden and headed towards safer areas in al-Buraiqa in the west.
Residents and local fighters said 40 other people, including a senior army officer, had been killed in fighting overnight in other parts of Aden, including an estimated 30 Houthi fighters and 10 local gunmen.
They said Saudi-led air strikes had helped the local fighters beat back a Houthi offensive on al-Tawahi, knocking out three tanks.
Among those killed overnight was Brig Gen Ali Nasser Hadi, residents said. Hadi later appointed Brig Gen Saif al-Baqri to replace him.
AFP reported that a husband and wife were killed when a missile hit their building in Saudi Arabia’s border region of Jazan. Fighting along the frontier has killed 12 Saudi soldiers and guards but no civilian casualties had previously been reported.
A Saudi-led Arab coalition began air strikes in Yemen on 26 March against Iran-allied Houthi fighters, backed by forces loyal to the former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who seized control of parts of the country, including the capital, Sana’a.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said on Wednesday that the US was concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen and that he would discuss a possible pause in fighting with Saudi officials to try to get food, fuel and medicine to civilians.
“We will be discussing the nature of the pause and how it might be implemented. I am convinced of their desire to implement the pause,” Kerry said.“The situation is getting more dire by the day and we are concerned about that,” Kerry told a news conference during a visit to Djibouti, the first secretary of state to visit the Horn of Africa country.
Kerry said the US had urged both sides in the Yemen conflict to comply with humanitarian laws and to ensure that civilians were spared in the fighting. He announced $68m (£45m) in new aid for relief agencies working in Yemen as humanitarian groups warned that fuel shortages could affect their efforts to tackle the crisis.
The United Nations said on Tuesday that the conflict in Yemen had killed at least 646 civilians since Saudi-coalition air strikes began, including 131 children. More than 1,364 civilians have been wounded. About 20 million people, or 80% of the population, are estimated to be going hungry, the UN has said.