Yemen rebels accused of taking hostages, torture

Human Rights Watch says some Huthi officials are exploiting their power to turn profit through detention, torture, murder.

CAIRO — An international watchdog is accusing Yemen's Shiite rebels, known as Huthis, of committing "serious abuses" — including "taking hostages, torture and enforced disappearances" — against people they hold in detention.

Human Rights Watch said Tuesday it documented "16 cases in which Huthi authorities held people unlawfully, in large part to extort money from relatives or to exchange them for people held by opposing forces."

It urges the rebels to "stop taking hostages, free everyone arbitrarily detained, end torture and enforced disappearances, and punish those responsible for abuses."

Sarah Leah Whitson of HRW says some Huthi officials "are exploiting their power to turn a profit through detention, torture, and murder."

Yemen's civil war, which started in March 2015, pits Iran-backed Huthis against a Saudi-led coalition backing the country's internationally recognized government.