SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A ballistic missile attack ripped through a military parade for a Yemeni southern separatist group that’s backed by the United Arab Emirates, killing at least six troops and three children, a spokesman said Sunday.
The explosion took place while the separatists, known as the Resistance Forces, were wrapping up a parade for new recruits at a soccer field in the capital of Dhale province, said Maged al-Shoebi, a spokesman for the group, by phone to The Associated Press.
The southern separatists are allied with the Saudi-led coalition that’s been fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels. But the UAE-backed southerners are currently at odds with Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which is more closely allied with Saudi Arabia. Cracks within the anti-Houthi bloc have widened over the past several months.
Footage circulated online of Sunday’s attack showed a hole in a stage at the edge of the field, apparently from an explosion, while other footage showed dead bodies on the ground.
More than 20 people including civilians were wounded in the blast, al-Shoebi said. He blamed the Houthis for the attack. The rebel group did not immediately comment.
The Houthis have been trying to wrest Dhale province from the southern separatists for years, but without much progress.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Houthi rebels. They drove out the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, forcing him to flee to the south and eventually to Saudi Arabia, which entered the war in 2015.
The fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country has killed over 100,000 people and left millions suffering from food and medical shortages. The conflict has also pushed the country to the brink of famine.
Associated Press journalist Maad al-Zikry contributed to this report from Aden, Yemen.