Yemeni rebels abducted a dozen local staff working for the Norwegian Refugee Council in the Red Sea district of Hodeida.
The 12 workers were taken hostage from the aid group’s offices in rebel-held Hali district late last week, Local Affairs Minister Abdul Raqib Fattah said in a statement carried by the pro-government sabanew.net news website.
The Yemeni aid workers were seized over accusations they accepted and distributed relief from a Saudi-led coalition that has battled the Houthi rebels since March 2015, sources told AFP news agency.
Yemen’s conflict pits a Saudi-led Arab coalition supportive of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against Iran-backed Houthis who currently control the Red Sea port of Hodeida, along with the capital Sanaa and large parts of northern Yemen.
Monday’s news comes amid a push by forces loyal to Hadi, who is backed by the Arab coalition, to close in on Hodeida on Yemen’s western coast.
Forces loyal to the government took full control of Mokha, south of Hodeida, earlier in February as part of a major offensive to oust the Houthis and their allies from Yemen’s southwestern coast.
Yemen’s conflict escalated in March 2015 when the Saudi-led coalition began air strikes to help forces loyal to Hadi to take large parts of the country back from the rebels.
UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen James McGoldrick last month said more than 10,000 civilians had been killed since 2015.
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Source: News agencies