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Five women killed, children wounded in Yemen wedding hall blast

Five women were killed and children were among the wounded when a projectile exploded at a New Year’s Day wedding party in Yemen’s Red Sea city of Hodeida, the latest atrocity in the war-torn nation.

The Saudi-backed government and Houthi group blamed each other for the suspected artillery shell attack Friday night near Hodeida’s airport, a frontline between their forces on the edge of the key Huthi-held port.

It came just two days after at least 26 people were killed in blasts that rocked the airport of the southern city of Aden as government ministers got off a plane there.

In Hodeida, “the explosion struck at the entrance to a complex of several wedding halls”, a witness told AFP, as a party was being held for a newly-married rebel supporter.

Local officials said five women were killed, and children were among the seven others wounded, when the shell hit the wedding venue.

General Sadek Douid, the government representative in a UN-sponsored joint commission overseeing a truce, condemned it as “an odious crime committed by the Houthis against civilians”.

Hodeida’s Houthi-appointed governor, Mohammed Ayache, said on Al-Masirah television, which is run by the Shiite Muslim rebels, that “the forces of aggression never hesitate to blame others for their crimes”.

The Houthis called for an international investigation into the explosion, their news agency said.

Humanitarian catastrophe

Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced in Yemen’s grinding six-year war, which has triggered what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

The rebels, based in northern Yemen, have controlled the capital Sanaa since 2014.

Government forces launched an offensive in June 2018 to retake Hodeida, the main entry point for humanitarian aid to the Arab world’s poorest country.

A ceasefire has been partially observed in Hodeida since December of 2018, but there have been new attacks in recent weeks.

On December 4 at least eight people were killed in bomb attacks on an industrial complex in Hodeida, a few days after the bombardment of residential areas killed five children and three women.

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