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Saudi-led airstrike kills 7 in contested Yemen port city

November 14, 2018

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2018 file photo, a cargo ship is docked at the Red Sea port city, of Hodeida, Yemen. Yemeni officials said Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, that an informal agreement to reduce hostilities between Saudi-led coalition forces and rebels in and around Hodeida has taken hold. They said that hostilities have ceased for the past 24 hours, with both sides respecting the truce. The truce followed advances by the coalition in their latest attempt to retake the city from the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — An airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition killed at least seven civilians in Yemen’s rebel-held port city of Hodeida, Yemeni security and medical officials said Wednesday.

The airstrike, which took place on Tuesday night, targeted a bus carrying civilians who were fleeing clashes, and also wounded four people, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The strike came a day after an informal agreement had been reached to reduce hostilities following advances by the coalition, which has spent months trying to seize the key Red Sea port from the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis.

The coalition made no comment on the strike.

The coalition forces are now 5 kilometers (3 miles) away from the port, which has served as a lifeline for goods and aid coming in to Yemeni civilians.

Also Wednesday, the United Nations Population Fund warned that the lives of at least 1,500 pregnant women caught in the fighting in Hodeida might be at risk as the city’s only hospital that can provide emergency care becomes inaccessible.

UNFPA said that 10,000 pregnant women are caught in the fighting in Hodeida.

It said health facilities across Hodeida have been closed or functioning at minimum capacity, straining al-Thawra Hospital, the province’s major neonatal care facility that sees up to 500 deliveries per month.

The Saudi-led coalition has waged war on the Iran-allied Houthis since March 2015. The rebels hold most of northern Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa, after forcing the internationally recognized government into exile.

An estimated 10,000 people have been killed in the war so far, and two-thirds of Yemen’s 27 million-strong population relies on aid. More than 8 million are at risk of starvation in what has become the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

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