Huthi attack hits hospital in Yemen's Mokha

Four civilians killed and 26 wounded after Huthi rebels launch ballistic missiles, drones at military base in southern Yemen that also damaged a crucial medical facility.

ABU DHABI - Six people, including four civilians, were killed in an attack by Yemeni rebels on a military base in the Red Sea coastal town of Mokha while 26 people were wounded, medical sources said on Thursday.

The strike also damaged a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and forced its operations to be suspended.

Wadah Dobish, a spokesman for Yemen's internationally recognized government, said the Huthi rebel attack struck warehouses used by a government-allied force late on Wednesday.

Dobish said the attacks targeted government-aligned forces known as the Giants Brigade. He said at least three Huthi drones also took part in the attack, which caused huge explosions and fires that spread to residential areas.

A Yemeni military official said that the Iran-backed rebels, who have been battling the internationally recognised government, launched four ballistic missiles and drones towards a military position in Mokha,

"The Patriot air defence system intercepted three missiles, while a fourth landed in the military base," said the military source, who declined to be identified. He confirmed that the attack destroyed a weapons storage facility used by the pro-government forces.

The rebels have made no claim of responsibility.

MSF said there were no casualties among their staff or patients.

"The hospital in Mokha was damaged as a result of an attack on a nearby facility, and work there has been suspended for the time being," a representative told AFP news agency.

Abdel-Rahman Ahmed, a general doctor at the hospital, said, "the patients fled after a huge explosion from the missile attacks on a weapons warehouse shook the area."

MSF says the hospital opened in August last year, offering free services to war-wounded people and surgeries. The hospital in Mokha is basically the only functioning facility providing support to thousands of severely malnourished children, either from Mokha or the large displaced community who fled to Mokha over the past year to escape fighting in other areas.

The attack comes after weeks of relative calm in Yemen, which had created a sliver of optimism over ending the years of conflict.

The escalation also comes only days after the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and rivals from UAE-backed southern factions signed a new power-sharing deal, ending months of deadly infighting in southern Yemen between the two members of the anti-Huthi bloc.

Mokha, historically famous for coffee exports, is in southern Hodeidah province. The port in the capital city, also named Hodeidah, is Yemen's most important entry point for international aid.

The port has been the center of year-long, UN-brokered negotiations since December for a durable ceasefire to prevent the suspension of crucial aid deliveries.

The ceasefire came months after forces backed by the United Arab Emirates, which is the main partner in the Saudi-led coalition that backs the internationally-recognised government, began an assault to push the Huthi rebels out Hodeidah in June 2018.

Wednesday's escalation could jeopardize the UN deal, criticized by observers as vague and hard to implement.

After five years of conflict, Yemen remains a divided country. The Huthis have controlled the capital Sanaa and much of the north since 2014. The Saudi-led coalition began its air campaign in 2015. Airstrikes and ground combat have killed 100,000 people, including fighters and civilians, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, which tracks violence reports in Yemen.

The fighting has also displaced millions and left 24.1 million - more than two-thirds of the population - in need of aid. The war has also caused near-famine conditions in some areas, and the United Nations has described Yemen as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.