SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Saudi-led coalition jets bombed a military installation in southern Yemen Tuesday as local tribes battled with forces loyal to the Shiite rebels in the area, forcing them out and seizing their makeshift camp and weapons, military officials said.
The fighting in Ibb comes as the U.N. children’s welfare agency warned that more than 100,000 people have fled their homes in different provinces in Yemen seeking safety from the violence. According to UNICEF, at least 74 children have also been killed since the fighting between Yemeni rivals intensified and the coalition airstrike campaign began two weeks ago.
A medical volunteer in the Maytam district in southern Ibb province said the airstrike on a Republican Guards camp left at least 25 military men wounded. The military unit is loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is allied with the Shiite rebels in their bid to grab power in Yemen.
Residents say the camp was close to a school. The rebel television station, known as al-Masirah, said three children were killed in the airstrike. The medical volunteer, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, could not verify the deaths.
About 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the camp, local tribes battled with rebel fighters who had set up a makeshift camp in the area, driving the rebels away and seizing their weapons, a local resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
Civilians have paid a heavy toll for the violence that mushroomed from an internal power struggle into a regional war drawing in neighboring Saudi Arabia and its allies.
Children have been especially vulnerable, said UNICEF’s Yemen representative, Julien Harneis.
“They are being killed, maimed and forced to flee their homes, their health threatened and their education interrupted,” Harneis said in a statement, released Monday in Amman, Jordan. Warring factions have also increased their recruitment of children under the age of 18.
The agency said at least 74 children have been killed and 44 wounded since March 26, when the Saudi-led air campaign began.
Last week, the U.N. said more than 500 civilians have been killed in the last two weeks. Comprehensive casualty figures are difficult to collect and verify because of the ongoing violence.
The fighting pits allies of the country’s embattled president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, against the rebels known as Houthis and their allies — military units loyal to Hadi’s predecessor, Saleh.
The Saudi-led military campaign, which supports Hadi, is in its 13th day, and has so far failed to stop the Houthis advance on Aden — Yemen’s second-largest city, which was declared a provisional capital by Hadi before he fled the country.
Humanitarian groups say they are running out of supplies. They have called for a temporary halt to the fighting to allow medical teams and fresh medical supplies to arrive in the country and for residents to identify and bury their dead.
UNICEF said the violence has disrupted water supplies in areas of southern Yemen and that sewage is overflowing in some locations, raising the risk of disease outbreak. Water systems have been repeatedly damaged in Aden and two other areas, UNICEF said, adding that it is providing fuel for water pumps.
Hospitals are struggling to treat large numbers of wounded with insufficient supplies and some medical facilities have come under attack, the agency said.
At least three health workers, including an ambulance driver, have been killed in attacks in Aden and another southern city.
On Monday, fighting intensified in Aden, with the rebels and their allies making their strongest push yet to seize control of the port city — a main stronghold of Hadi supporters. The clashes were so intense, many bodies were left in the streets.
The fighting raised doubts over the possibility of landing ground forces from the Saudi-led coalition to carve out a secure enclave for Hadi, who fled the country two weeks ago.
“Conditions are very dangerous right now,” UNICEF’s Dr. Gamila Hibatullah in Aden was quoted as saying. “Hospitals are overflowing, and even ambulances have been hijacked.”