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Yemeni rebels free 276 loyalists

AFP , Sunday 19 Jun 2016
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Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen announced on Sunday the release of 276 government loyalists who had been held captive for months, in a gesture of good will.

The rebels' sabanews.net website said 200 detainees were set free in Rada, a town in the central province of Baida, and another 76 were let go in nearby Dhamar province.

The move was a sign of "good will" on the occasion of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, said the website, citing officials.

The detainees in Rada had been captured for allegedly "cooperating with the Arab military coalition and being loyal to the government" of UN-backed President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, an official there told AFP.

Those freed in Dhamar had been taken in on accusations they had been preparing to join government forces, the official added.

The releases come a day after the exchange of 194 prisoners in Taez, in southwestern Yemen, following tribal mediation unconnected to UN-brokered peace talks in Kuwait.

Those negotiations, now in their ninth week, have made no major breakthroughs, even on the issue of prisoners.

Earlier this month, the rebels freed 187 captives while Saudi Arabia released 52 children it was holding.

Those negotiations, now in their ninth week, have made no major breakthroughs, even on the prisoners issue.

Earlier this month, the rebels released 187 detainees while Saudi Arabia freed 52 children it was holding.

More than 6,400 people have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen's conflict in March 2015, the majority of them civilians, the UN says.

The fighting has also driven 2.8 million people from their homes and left more than 80 percent of the population in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

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