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Rebel rockets kill 14 civilians in Yemen city: Medics

AFP , Monday 24 Aug 2015
Yemen
A boy with his bicycle stands near buildings destroyed during fighting between tribal fighters and Shia rebels known as Houthis at a street in Taez, Yemen, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015 (Photo: AP)
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Iran-backed rebels in Yemen fired rockets into a residential district of Taez, killing 14 civilians, mostly women and children, officials said Monday, as battles raged for control of the key city.

The bodies of those killed, including seven women and four children, were taken overnight to the morgue at a public hospital in Taez, said the medical officials.

Several other civilians were wounded and hospitalised.

The Shia Houthi rebels and their allies had fired Katyusha rockets on Sunday targeting the district in central Taez, according to medics and residents.

Viewed as the key to controlling the capital Sanaa, Taez has been the scene of deadly fighting between the rebels and loyalists of Yemen's exiled government.

Battles in the city, southwest of Sanaa, have intensified in recent weeks as loyalists pressed an offensive in which they have so far recaptured five southern provinces.

Pro-government forces claim to control "75 percent" of the city, including the presidential palace and the residence of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh -- whose supporters are fighting among Houthi ranks.

But this could not be confirmed from independent sources.

On Friday, dozens of people, mostly civilians, were killed in fighting and air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition in Taez, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Houthis have seized control of large parts of the country including Sanaa, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to the southern port city of Aden and then Saudi Arabia.

In March, Saudi Arabia launched a coalition that has been carrying out an air war against them.

The kingdom, as well as the United Arab Emirates, have also backed pro-government forces with arms and troops.

Riyadh accuses Tehran of arming the Houthis, a charge it denies.

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