UN calls for immediate halt to fighting in Yemen

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The latest on the conflict in Yemen (all times local):

12:25 am.

The United Nations is urging an immediate halt to fighting in Yemen’s capital following the dramatic escalation of ground clashes and airstrikes that have trapped thousands and prevented the injured from being reached.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric says the United Nations took note of Monday’s reported killing of former Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh during the upsurge in fighting in Sanaa.

Saleh’s former Houthi Shiite allies claim he was killed for “treason” for reportedly seeking to switch alliance to the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Houthis for nearly three years.

Dujarric says that “it is paramount that civilians are protected” and reminds all parties that deliberate attacks on civilians, hospitals and other civilian sites “may constitute war crimes.”

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8:15 p.m.

Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has urged Yemenis to unite against the country’s Shiite Houthi rebels, describing them as “Iranian militias” and a “nightmare.”

Hadi, who has been self-imposed exile in Riyadh in recent past years, delivered his televised speech hours after the Houthis killed their onetime ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh’s forces and Houthis joined ranks in 2014 against Hadi’s government, forcing him to seek military intervention by his Gulf neighbors. When the Saleh-Houthi alliance began to unravel, Hadi offered the opportunity of a fresh start in relations with Saleh, days before his death.

“Yemen is passing through a decisive turning point that needs our unity and steadfastness in the face of these sectarian militias,” Hadi said, referring to the Houthis.

He offered condolences for the death of Saleh, describing him and others who were killed in the past days of clashes as “martyrs.”

“Let’s put our hands together to end this nightmare,” said Hadi, who succeeded Saleh in 2012. He added that government forces would support an “uprising” against the Houthis in Sanaa.

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8:10 p.m.

Germany’s foreign minister says that the situation in Yemen is “probably the worst humanitarian catastrophe right now worldwide,” worse than the Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh whose plight has captured global attention.

Sigmar Gabriel said after a Monday meeting in Paris with his French counterpart that Yemen “is even more dramatic” now than that of the Rohingyas, who fled Myanmar by the hundreds of thousands to escape a crackdown.

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