Al Mukalla: A powerful explosion in an ammunition store for a local arms trader killed at least 20 people and injured dozens others in a district controlled by the Iran-backed Al Houthis in the northern province of Jawf, resident and local media outlets said on Thursday.
Jawf Media Centre, a pro-government electronic media outlet based in the central province of Marib, said that a fire broke out triggering the explosion that occurred on Wednesday evening in a house used as an ammunition store for a local weapon trader called Aref Gha’al in Barat Al Anan district flattened some mud-built houses and killed 20 including the trader and his family.
The centre said that the trader stored landmines, ammunition and arms in the house and many bodies are still buried under debris.
Photos circulated on social media showed residents standing behind a line of the dead while first responders trying to pull the buried people using a bulldozer.
Local arms smugglers and traders in Al Houthi-held territories store arms inside residential areas to avoid air strikes by Saudi-led coalition fighter jets.
Meanwhile, on the ground, fighting raged between government forces, backed by heavy air cover from the Saudi-led coalition, and Al Houthi militia in Jawf, Marib, Sana’a and Hajja.
On Nehim front, just outside of Al Houthi-held Sana’a, the state-run Saba news agency said on Wednesday that government forces scored limited territorial gains in the area by taking control of several hilly positions and capturing and killing several Al Houthi militants.
Fighting in the rugged district of Nehim has been raging since mid-last week when government forces launched a new offensive on Al Houthis in an attempt of break months-long military stalemate. A Yemeni army spokesperson, Brigadier General Abdullah Majili, has previously told Gulf News that the recent gains have made government forces closer to Sana’a and enabled them to cut off supply routes to pockets of Al Houthi militants in Nehim.
In the southern province of Shabwa, UAE-backed Yemeni forces combed many houses in the town of Huta for Al Qaida operatives and arms. The forces have set up checkpoints at the town’s entrances, days after pushing the militants. Al Qaida militants have lost almost all of their strongholds in southern Yemen after thousands of army troops, trained and armed by the UAE, took charge of security. Al Qaida and Daesh have been squeezed into rugged mountains in Baydha, Shabwa and Abyan.