ADEN (AFP) - More than 40 troops and rebels have been killed in several days of clashes between Yemen’s Saudi-backed army and insurgents allied with Iran near the Red Sea port of Mokha, officials said Sunday.
Sixteen Huthi rebels and seven soldiers were killed in overnight clashes east of Mokha, a key waterway for international trade and imports currently held by the army, according to military officials and witnesses at hospitals in the area.
Twenty Yemeni soldiers were also killed in a rebel strike on a major military base in Taiz province, around 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Mokha, on Thursday, a military official there said.
Authorities on Saturday said the Shiite Huthis had attacked the Mokha port with a remote-controlled boat carrying explosives. No casualties were reported.
The Saudi-led coalition also said a ballistic missile fired by the Huthis was shot down Thursday near Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the site of the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage that falls next month.
Backed by the Arab coalition, the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi has battled the Huthi rebels for control of the impoverished country for two years.
More than 8,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the conflict, which has pushed the country to the brink of famine.
A cholera outbreak has also claimed the lives of more than 1,800 people since April, with 400,000 suspected cases across the country, according to the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The UN last week warned 80 percent of Yemen’s children were in desperate need of aid in what the organisation has described as the "largest humanitarian crisis in the world".