AL-MUKALLA: Three missiles fired by the Iran-backed Houthis on Wednesday struck Yemen’s Red Sea port city of Mocha during a visit by the UN’s special envoy to the country.
Residents claimed three large explosions had rocked areas on the edge of the city, causing damage to private properties.
“The missiles hit areas close to farms and residential areas on the city’s outskirts. I think the missiles were aimed at a security facility in Mocha,” an official, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg was reportedly in Mocha meeting with local officials, political leaders, and civil society representatives when the aerial attacks took place on Wednesday morning.
His discussions had centered around the humanitarian crisis in the Red Sea area, growing displacements, and the impact of Houthi attacks on peace and public facilities. The UN ambassador also held talks with Brig. Gen. Tareq Mohammed Saleh, nephew of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and commander of the National Resistance in the country’s western coast, on efforts to end the war.
In September, the Houthis launched a number of missiles and explosive-rigged drones toward Mocha port as officials were preparing to reopen the strategic dock. The strikes damaged parts of the newly repaired infrastructure, disrupting traffic and the reopening ceremony.
On Tuesday, during a rare visit by a UN official to the besieged city of Taiz, Grundberg met with the governor of Taiz and local political party leaders.
On his trip to Taiz, the envoy said: “We see people that are having their freedom of movement severely restricted; we see people that are affected by the declining economic situation, the frequent interruptions in the delivery of basic services like water and electricity, and a general state of insecurity.”
The Houthi missile strikes on Mocha came hours after the group’s officials had slammed Grundberg for visiting government-controlled areas, accusing him of giving a morale boost to it opponents.
Abdul Kader Al-Murtadha, head of the Houthi prisoner exchange committee, tweeted that the UN envoy had failed to broker a new prisoner swap between the movement and the Yemeni government. “It is clear that his mission is to conduct some visits to the mercenaries’ areas to raise their morale more than anything else,” Al-Murtagh said.
The UN Security Council on Tuesday imposed sanctions on three Houthi military leaders, accusing them of undermining peace and stability in Yemen and committing humanitarian abuses.
The council’s 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee added Saleh Mesfer Saleh Al-Shaer, Muhammad Abd Al-Karim Al-Ghamari, and commander of the Houthi 5th Military Region, Yusuf Al-Madani, bringing the total number of blacklisted Yemeni figures to nine.
The three leaders were blacklisted for their alleged roles in orchestrating systematic human rights crimes, including the arbitrary abductions of opponents and activists, commanding military units that shelled and attacked Yemeni cities including Marib, and smuggling weapons.
The committee said: “As of 2021, Al-Madani was assigned to the offensive targeting Marib. Persistent Houthi repositioning and other violations of the ceasefire provisions of the Hodeidah Agreement have destabilized a city that serves as a critical thoroughfare for humanitarian and essential commercial commodities.”
Al-Shaer, Al-Ghamari, and Al-Madani are included on the Arab coalition’s list of most wanted Houthi leaders.
Meanwhile, the killing of a pregnant journalist in the port city of Aden on Tuesday was condemned by local Yemeni officials and foreign envoys who demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice.
Yemeni writer Rasha Al-Harazi and her husband Mahmoud Al-Atemi, also a journalist, were in their car when a blast ripped through it, killing her and critically wounding Al-Atemi.
The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate described her death as “an unprecedented horrific crime,” and called on local authorities in Aden to launch an immediate probe into the incident.
Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed said he had ordered an investigation by security authorities, and he vowed to put an end to terrorism.