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Yemeni officials: Rebels missile, drone attack kills 8

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s rebels staged missile and drone attacks Wednesday on forces allied with the country’s internationally recognized government in a Red Sea town, killing at least eight people, including three civilians, and causing large fires, military officials said.

Wadah Dobish, a spokesman for government forces on Yemen’s western coast, told The Associated Press at least four missiles fired by the Iran-backed rebels struck warehouses used by the allied force known as the Giants Bridges in the port town of Mocha. He said their defenses intercepted at least three other missiles.

Dobish said at least three Houthi drones also took part in the attack, which caused huge explosions and fires that spread to residential areas. The media arm of the Giants Bridges force posted footage online showing flames and explosions were heard apparently from the warehouses.

Officials said at least 12 people, mostly fighters, were wounded in the attacks.

A statement from the government forces on the western coast said the attacks also targeted a refugee camp and a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in the town.

The medical aid group did not immediately respond to an AP request seeking a comment.

Houthi officials, meanwhile, said Giant Bridges fighters fired dozens of shells at the rebel-held town of Durayhimi, just south of the Hodeida port city.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

The escalation could jeopardize a U.N.-brokered cease-fire in Hodeida. The port city is the main entry point for humanitarian aid to Yemen, where more than five years of war have spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis , with near-famine conditions in some areas.

Last year heavy fighting erupted in Hodeida after government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition moved in to wrestle control of the strategic city from the Houthis.

After month of clashes, the two sides reached a cease-fire agreement for the city, and both also agreed to withdraw their forces from the port and the two smaller ports of Salif and Ras Issa. The deal, which was seen as an important first step toward ending the conflict, was vague on the withdrawal, however, saying a “local force” would take over without specifying who would lead it.

The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by the Iranian-backed Houthis. A Saudi-led coalition allied with the government has been fighting the Houthis since March 2015. The war has since killed more than 100,000 people, including thousands of civilians, according to a database project that tracks violence.

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Associated Press writer Ahmed-al-Haf reported this story in Sanaa and AP write Sam Magdy reported from Cairo.

Associated Press