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Sporadic fighting mars first day of ceasefire in Yemen

A UN-brokered ceasefire is mostly holding across war-torn Yemen except in the besieged city of Taiz where shelling killed at least one person and wounded five, according to residents.

There were also sporadic exchanges of gunfire in other parts of the country after the truce between the Saudi-led coalition, which backs Yemen's internationally recognized government, and the Shiite rebels known as Houthis went into effect at midnight on Sunday.

The truce is meant build confidence between Yemen's warring sides ahead of the UN-sponsored peace talks scheduled to take place in Kuwait on April 18.

Residents of Taiz, which has been besieged by the rebels for over a year, are blaming the Houthis for the overnight random shelling that killed one civilian and wounded four.

In the capital, Sanaa, which has been under the Houthis' control since September 2014, the coalition largely ceased its airstrikes.

But in the district of Naham, on the fringes of Sanaa province, fighting continued overnight between armed men backing the government and the Houthis, according to residents there.

The Saudi-led coalition has said it will commit to the open-ended ceasefire and halt its year-long air campaign against the rebels.

Earlier, the alliance's spokesman, Brig Gen Ahmed al-Asiri, said that the coalition's commitment to the truce will depend on the extent the Houthis abide by the Security Council resolution stipulating the rebels pull their forces from the cities and hand over heavy weapons to the government.

The coalition, comprised of mostly Arab countries, launched its campaign against the Houthis in March 2015, several months after the rebels overran Sanaa and forced the internationally-backed government into exile.

Since then, more than 9,000 people have been killed in Yemen's civil war, including more than 3,000 civilians, according to the United Nations. The fighting has also displaced 2.4 million people.


From Belfast Telegraph