ADEN, Yemen, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) — Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh called on his followers and armed forces to carry out more retaliatory armed attacks against Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
Saleh, who is the powerful ally of the Houthi group, appeared in a televised speech just one day after allegedly Saudi-led airstrikes targeted Qaah al-Kubra, one of Sanaa’s biggest event halls, as it was hosting a funeral ceremony.
The former president urged his military and security forces to head for border areas with Saudi Arabia to revenge for Saturday’s attack.
“All of our sons and fighters must head immediately to take revenge by escalating armed attacks in the borders with Saudi Arabia,” Saleh said in his speech.
“Commanders of our military forces have to work hard to raise the fighting readiness to take revenge for Yemenis killed by Saudi warplanes inside camps, public markets and hospitals,” Saleh said.
According to medical sources, the attack left more than 160 people killed, including military leaders and government officials allied with Houthis and Saleh.
Hundreds of others, mostly civilians, were injured and many bodies were completely burned and turned into ashes, witnesses near the scene said.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition denied any role in the attack in Sanaa banquet hall, inviting to explore other possible reasons by launching an immediate investigation.
The Houthis, backed by Saleh’s loyal forces, stormed Sanaa in September 2014, fighting against what they said “Hadi’s government corruption.”
They seized Sanaa and much parts of the country’s north, forcing Hadi and his government to flee into exile.
The Saudi-led coalition launched a military air campaign against Houthis and Saleh’s forces on March 26, 2015 to restore Hadi to power and recapture the capital.
The coalition’s airstrikes and ground battles have since killed over 10,000 Yemenis, mostly children and women, injuring around 35,000 others and displacing three million others, according to UN reports.
Houthis and Saleh’s forces still control the capital Sanaa and much parts of the war-stricken Arab country.