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Yemen minister’s bodyguards killed in convoy blast

Eight of the Yemeni defence minister’s bodyguards were killed Wednesday when their vehicle hit a landmine east of the capital Sanaa, but the official was unhurt, a ministry source said.

The Yemen government — backed by a Saudi-led military coalition — has been battling Iran-bached Huthi rebels since 2014, when the insurgents seized control of Sanaa.

Defence Minister General Mohammed Ali al-Maqdishi was in Marib province on Wednesday visiting one of the main frontlines.

“A vehicle accompanying that of the defence minister was struck by an explosion,” a defence ministry source told AFP.

He said that eight of the guards were killed, raising an earlier toll of six dead.

“Nothing happened to the minister,” the source said.

Loyalist military officials said in late January that the Huthis had made gains against government troops north and east of the capital, seizing a strategic road.

The road connects Sanaa to the provinces of Marib, to the east, and Jawf in the north.

Before the latest upsurge in fighting, Jawf province had been mostly controlled by the Huthis, with its capital still in the hands of the government.

Marib province, including its capital, is under government control.

The renewed fighting, which erupted several weeks ago, included a January 18 missile strike on a loyalist military camp that killed 116 people.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions been displaced in a war that the United Nations has termed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.