Relative: Yemeni rebels kill woman in front of her children

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A 25-year-old woman was beaten to death in front of her two children by Houthi rebels in Yemen’s Ibb province, a family member said Friday.

Houthi militia members raided the house of Ahlam al-Ashary late Thursday looking for her husband, the family member said. When they did not find him they kicked al-Ashary and beat her with sticks and the backs of their pistols until she died, said the relative, who refused to be named for fear of reprisals. The militants were searching for al-Ashary’s husband for his alleged ties to rival forces loyal to the U.N.-recognized government, the relative said.

The attack took place in a rural area in Houthi-controlled Ibb province, where most inhabitants have resisted Houthi rule. Photos of al-Ashari’s children hugging her coffin have circulated on social media outlets and anti-Houthi Yemeni news websites.

The Associated Press reached out to four Houthi officials but all declined to comment.

The conflict in Yemen erupted in 2014 when Iran-backed Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, overran the country’s northern parts and the capital Sanaa, forcing the U.N recognized government to flee to the south. Since 2015, Houthis have been fighting a Saudi-led and U.S.-backed military coalition that seeks to reinstate the government of President Abdel Rabbo Masour Hadi.

The war in the Arab world’s poorest country has killed more than 112,000 people, including thousands of civilians. The conflict has also resulted in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Muammar al-Iryani, information minister in the U.N.-recognized government, criticized the attack Friday as “an outrageous terror crime” that attests to “the barbarism of Houthi militias.”