Yemen naval forces find more Houthi planted mines in Red Sea

Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said the mines had been planted by Yemen's Houthi rebels.
Tuesday 11/02/2020
File photo shows a UAE navy soldier patrols at Al-Mokha port in Yemen, March 6, 2018.
File photo shows a UAE navy soldier patrols at Al-Mokha port in Yemen, March 6, 2018.

LONDON - Naval forces fighting on behalf of the internationally recognised government of Yemen have discovered additional naval mines located off the Red Sea island of Sana, days after similar mines killed Egyptian fishermen in close proximity.

Navy patrols of the Yemeni army's 5th Military Zone found and dismantled seven unexploded naval mines located off the western coast of the island of Sana, which is situated off the coast of Yemen's Hajjah Province, Al-Masdar Online reported.

Last week, the Saudi-led coalition fighting alongside the Yemeni government revealed that three Egyptian fishermen had been killed in a naval mine explosion in the Red Sea. Coalition troops managed to save three other fishermen injured in the explosion.

The spokesman for the coalition, Colonel Turki al-Maliki, said the mines had been planted by Yemen's Houthi rebels -- who have been fighting the coalition-backed Yemeni government forces since 2015.

“The terrorist Iran-backed Houthi militia’s continuation of planting and deploying naval mines is a serious threat to maritime navigation and international trade in South of Red Sea and Bab-el-mandeb strait,” the coalition spokesman said.

“The Coalition will carry on its efforts to neutralize maritime and naval mine threats. A total of (137) mines, planted and deployed indiscriminately by the Houthi militia in South of Red Sea and Bab-el-Mandeb strait, were discovered and destroyed," he added.

As the fighting continues, United Nations-sponsored prisoner exchange talks between the government of Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the Houthi militia began on February 10 in Amman Jordan.

A United Nations source told Agence France-Presse that "the meeting will discuss the obligations of two parties announced in the prisoner exchange agreement concluded by the parties in Stockholm, Sweden, in late 2018.”

According to the Associated Press, the Amman-based talks will also “focus on interim agreements, such as re-opening Yemen’s main international airport in Sana'a, which was shut down by the Saudi-led coalition in 2016.”

In a sign of progress, two United Nations flights ferrying dozens of seriously ill Yemenis abroad for treatment took off last week from the rebel-held capital, the first since the start of the air blockade.

The prisoner swap deal was seen as a breakthrough during 2018 peace talks in Sweden, where Yemen’s Shia Houthi rebels and the internationally recognised government agreed to several such confidence-building measures, including a cease-fire in the strategic port city of Hodeidah.