At least three died، dozens more injured as a bus plunges off a cliff in Yemen‏‏

English version

اليمن العربي

At least three passengers died and dozens more were injured، some seriously، after a bus carrying 47 people plunged off a cliff in Yemen.

The vehicle reportedly slid off a muddy road between the besieged city of Taiz and the southern port city of Aden، sparking renewed calls for an end to the Iran-backed Houthi siege of Taiz.

Local officials and media said the Mercedes-Benz coach، operated by Nur Transportation، was traveling down a steep road in Lahij governorate’s Al-Qabbaytah District on Saturday evening when the crash happened.

The poorly maintained route is regularly used by travellers trying to avoid Houthi checkpoints around Taiz.

The tragedy has prompted fresh calls from Taiz residents، Yemeni officials، and human rights activists for the international community to exert pressure on the Houthis to implement the terms of a UN-brokered truce.

Abdul Basit Al-Baher، a Yemeni military officer in Taiz، told Arab News on Sunday that it was the Houthi blockade that was preventing free and safe travel between Aden and Lahij.

He said: “People go over treacherous، steep mountain trails owing to the Houthi blockade.”

The Houthis are required to partially lift their siege of Taiz under the terms of the UN-brokered truce، which began on April 2 and was twice extended، by opening at least one main highway and several minor roads in exchange for the Yemeni government facilitating the departure of commercial flights from Sanaa airport and allowing more fuel ships to pass through Hodeidah port.

Despite the opening of Sanaa airport and arrival of more than 50 fuel ships in Hodeidah، the Houthis have refused to open roads in Taiz and instead insisted on opening only one short، dirt track، causing the deal to collapse.

In a tweet about the bus crash، Ishraq Al-Maqtari، a spokesperson for the National Committee for Allegations of Human Rights Violations in Yemen، said: “Six months of ceasefire did not persuade the Houthis to open a route that would reduce civilian fatalities and losses.”

Separately، local military officials in Taiz reported that a civilian had been killed during random Houthi attacks on government forces and residential areas to the west and east of Taiz.
Heavy clashes between Houthi rebel troops and Yemen’s pro-government forces have killed at least 8 people، a security official confirmed Friday. The fresh round of violence comes amid heightened tensions following last week’s failure to extend a cease-fire between the warring sides.

The official said exchanges of fire broke out late Thursday night in the contested western area of Yafa، killing four troops from either side and injuring five others. Local witnesses said both Houthi troops and forces under the Southern Transitional Council، which is backed by the United Arab Emirates and is a major pillar of the Saudi coalition fighting in Yemen، deployed machine guns and mortars during the clashes.

Yemen’s conflict began in 2014 when Iranian-backed Houthi forces seized the capital of Sanaa. In response، a Saudi Arabia-led coalition intervened in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government to power.

The failure to extend the nationwide truce last Sunday has threatened to reignite the bloody war after a six-month cessation in frontline fighting. The Houthis blamed the dead-ended negotiations on the U.N.، which has facilitated the cease-fire talks، while the U.S. envoy to Yemen accused the rebel group of derailing the talks through last-minute demands.

As Sunday’s deadline for a renewed agreement passed، both sides reportedly deployed reinforcements to the frontline cities of Marib and Taiz and exchanged gunfire in the western governorate of Al Dhalea. Neither of these reports post-cease-fire could be immediately confirmed by The Associated Press.

Houthi forces and the Southern Transitional Council sides have both blamed each other for sparking Thursday’s violence، officials said. Both the officials and the witnesses spoke with The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief the media.

The U.N.-backed truce took effect in April and had originally established the partial opening of the capital’s airport and the Red Sea port of Hodeida، as well as the lifting of the Houthi blockade on the country’s third-largest city، Taiz. However، disagreements over the opening and control of Taiz’s key entry roads meant the city has remained under a Houthi-imposed siege.

The Yemeni war has killed in excess of 150،000 people according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. The fighting has turned Yemen into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises، pushing the Middle East’s poorest nation into near famine.