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Decisive Storm arrives in Ibb, killing 14 and injuring dozens.

SANA'A, March 31 --Saudi-led coalition forces raided Ibb governorate on Tuesday, leaving at least 14 dead and 32 injured, according to local security sources. The airstrikes were the first recorded in the governorate since the air offensive began.

Mohammad Al-Shami, the security chief of Ibb governorate, told the Yemen Times that the strikes occurred in Yarim district, which borders Dhamar governorate. The 14 people killed and 32 injured were all civilians, and "the victims were either sleeping or working," he said.

While it appears mostly civilians were hit, local sources reported some of the casualties were Houthi militants.

"The strikes killed at least 14 civilians and militants in about four strikes in different locations in Kitab and Yarim city [of Yarim district]," said Abdulqawi Al-Moshki, a resident and eyewitness in Yarim city, who said the strikes occurred between 2 and 3:30 in the morning.

Zayid Nasser, a member of a Houthi popular committee in Yarim, told the Yemen Times that three members belonging to the group were killed in the air raids, all at one checkpoint in Yarim city.

The city, located near the border of Dhamar, is strategically important as it is positioned at the junction that links the governorates of Ibb, Dhamar, and Al-Dhale.

Calling the raids "an aggressive act," Nasser said mostly innocent civilians are paying the price. "This crime is indescribable and has made everyone depressed. Civilians did not expect that they would be a target," he said. "Saudi Arabia has destroyed Syria and it is destroying Yemen."

Commencing what the Saudi-led coalition has dubbed Operation Decisive Storm, fighter planes have been targeting military installations around the country since around midnight March 25. While mostly hitting targets affiliated with the Houthis and military forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a number of residential areas, public institutions, and private businesses have also been bombed.

An eyewitness to the strike on the checkpoint in Yarim city, local shop owner Ahmed Al-Wajih said a gas tanker positioned at a Houthi checkpoint in the city was hit, causing a massive explosion.

"Because of the fire, the night turned to day. The vehicles and militants that were at the checkpoint were burned, and the fire reached nearby houses. Six houses sustained damage because of the fire and people were crying out to be rescued," he said.

Unlike the strike in Yarim city, Yahya Al-Jalal, who owns a shop selling spare car parts in the Kitab area of Yarim district, said there were no Houthi militants in the vicinity of the strike.

A witness to the bombing, which he described as "resounding and violent," Al-Jalal said the strike first hit two gas tankers which were stopped near a gas station in Kitab. When the tankers exploded, "all those who were at the scene during the strike were killed." He estimated the number of deaths to be six.

Despite the airstrikes, security chief Al-Shami claimed Ibb remains stable and that security forces, in cooperation with Houthi popular committees, are maintaining order in the governorate.

The Houthis seized Ibb in the middle of October last year, with little resistance from locals or military forces. However, periodic fighting has occurred with alleged Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in multiple locations in Ibb, including Yarim district.

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Publication:Yemen Times (Sana'a, Yemen)
Geographic Code:7YEME
Date:Apr 1, 2015
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