ALEXANDRIA: Tim Lenderking, US special envoy to Yemen, on Wednesday condemned “brutal” Houthi attacks on civilian targets in the central province of Marib, including Saturday’s missile strike on a gas station.
During a meeting with Philippe Etienne, French ambassador to the US, Lenderking called for an immediate nationwide ceasefire and a halt to deadly Houthi attacks on civilians, mainly in Marib.
“#USEnvoyYemen Lenderking met w/French ambassador to the US @Ph_Etienne to discuss the need for an immediate, nationwide cease-fire & our concerns about brutal Houthi attacks on civilians, including in Marib this past weekend,” Lenderking tweeted.
On Saturday, 21 people, including a five-year-old girl, were killed when a ballistic missile and an explosives-rigged drone ripped through a gas station in a densely populated district in Marib city.
The Houthi attack, the deadliest in Marib by the Houthis for more than a year, and shocking images of the bodies of the girl and her father have sparked outrage inside and outside Yemen, with Marib Gov. Sultan Al-Arada demanding an international inquiry into the attack.
Yemeni government officials, human rights activists and journalists called for global pressure on the Houthis to halt their offensive in the province and their shelling of residential areas in the city that hosts more than 2 million people who have fled fighting or Houthi repression in their home provinces.
On Wednesday, dozens of children staged a silent vigil in Marib in memory of the dead girl, Lian, her father, and others killed in the attack. Children carried dolls, images of the child’s charred remains and posters condemning the Houthis for targeting children.
“Lian is a victim of the Houthi crime,” read one poster carried by a crying child.
“The (Houthi) missile stole Lian’s soul and smile, and turned her body into a charred corpse,” read another poster.
Meanwhile, Yemeni officials and activists have accused local and international human rights groups who have campaigned for the delisting of the Houthis as a terrorist organization of paying no attention to the militia attacks on civilians.
“More than 100 human rights organizations have been fighting to reverse the terrorist designation for Houthis. Most of those organizations have turned a blind eye to a child who was killed with her father by a Houthi missile on Marib. We are her voice, we will spread the word everywhere,” said Mohammed Jumeh, Yemen’s permanent delegate to UNESCO.