Toll in Attack on Yemen Military Base Rises to at Least 76

Toll in Attack on Yemen Military Base Rises to at Least 76

AL MUKALLA, Yemen — The death toll in a drone and missile attack on a government military training base in central Yemen rose to at least 76 on Sunday, representing an escalation bound to complicate international efforts to end the country’s prolonged war.

The attack targeted soldiers gathered Saturday near a mosque in the central province of Mareb before evening prayers. Abdu Abdullah Majali, a spokesman for the Yemeni Army, which is backed by Saudi Arabia, provided the new death toll and said at least 81 people were wounded.

But Yemen’s foreign minister, Mohammed al-Hadrami, gave a higher toll, saying more than 100 people were killed. He called it a “cowardly terrorist act that violates all religious and human customs and values” in a statement on his ministry’s Twitter feed.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are aligned with Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran, did not claim responsibility for the attack. But there are no other forces in the area with a motive to carry it out.

Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has been locked in civil war since the Houthis seized much of the nation’s northwest and its capital, Sana, in 2014. The next year, an Arab military coalition led by Saudi Arabia began launching airstrikes and backing forces on the ground to push back the Houthis and restore the government.

But the war has settled into a stalemate and bred one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. More than 10,000 people have been killed, and hunger and diseases like cholera have spread.

International efforts to end the war have made little headway, although United Nations officials have brokered local cease-fires that have brought down the violence in some areas.

The United Nations special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, condemned the attack and said that it and military escalation elsewhere in the country endanger peacemaking efforts.

“I have said before that the hard–earned progress that Yemen has made on de-escalation is very fragile,” Mr. Griffiths said in a statement on Sunday. “Such actions can derail this progress. The negotiation tables are more effective than battlefields in resolving the conflict.”

Yemen’s internationally recognized president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has spent most of the war exiled in Saudi Arabia, and he called on government forces to be on high alert for further strikes.

The attack “confirms without doubt that the Houthis have no desire for peace,” he said, according to a statement released by the Yemeni state news agency, SABA.

Saeed Al-Batati reported from Al Mukalla, and Ben Hubbard from Beirut, Lebanon.

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