DUBAI, Dec 29 (Reuters) – A missile fired by the Iran-aligned Houthi group struck a military parade in Yemen’s town of al-Dhalea, killing at least seven people and wounding several, government-allied southern separatist forces who control the area said on Sunday.
No claim of responsibility was made and Houthi media did not immediately comment on the blast or the accusation.
The missile struck a parade ground where a military graduation for Security Belt forces had just finished, statements from the Security Belt group and the al-Dhalea southern separatist forces said.
The Security Belt forces are part of a government-aligned southern separatist front in south Yemen which favours the creation of an independent state.
They are also backed by the United Arab Emirates in a fight against Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group.
Witnesses told Reuters that the blast occurred near a guest platform during the parade, causing injuries and deaths. They reported seeing bodies.
Pictures from the scene showed a blast hole in the concrete of an outdoor square.
Seven people died, among them four children, and 25 were injured, according to the local forces’ spokesman.
Yemen has suffered from almost five years of conflict since the Houthi movement ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government in late 2014. The coup drew military intervention in 2015 by a Saudi-led coalition, which includes the United Arab Emirates, trying to restore Hadi’s internationally recognized government.
The town of al-Dhalea is controlled by southern separatist forces. It lies on the main south-to-north road linking the southern port of Aden — controlled by Hadi’s government — to the Houthi-controlled capital, Sanaa.
A contested frontline runs across al-Dhalea province.
In August, the Houthis claimed responsibility for a missile and drone attack on a parade in Aden, the seat of the internationally recognised government, killing around 36 people including a prominent commander.
(Reporting by Reuters team in Yemen; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by William Maclean, Louise Heavens, Jan Harvey and Nick Macfie)