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Sporadic fighting mars first day of cease-fire in Yemen

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



Sanaa: A UN-brokered cease-fire was mostly holding across war-torn Yemen today 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 recognised government, and the Shiite rebels known as Houthis went into effect yesterday.

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.

Both in Taiz and in Naham, the residents spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety.

The Saudi-led coalition has said it will commit to the open-ended cease-fire and halt its yearlong air campaign against the rebels. Earlier, the alliance's spokesman, Brig Gen Ahmed al-Asiri, told The Associated Press 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.

Meanwhile, the UN Children's agency warned that the children of Yemen are bearing the brunt of the conflict.

UNICEF said in a statement that at least 900 children have been killed a seven-fold increase, compared to the number of fatalities among children in 2014.

The agency also said that child recruitment increased five times, and that the "disruption in the delivery of basic services has deprived thousands of children of their fundamental rights to education and health."

"The incidents that the United Nations was able to verify represent the tip of the iceberg," the agency said. 

From Zee News

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