Air strikes shelling kill 19 Yemeni civilians

Air strikes hit Houthi targets throughout the country on Thursday despite progress toward peace talks.

FILE: Smoke billows following an air-strike by Saudi-led coalition on May 11, 2015, in the Yemen capital of Sanaa. Picture: AFP.

SANAA - An Arab air strike and Saudi artillery shelling in northern Yemen killed 19 civilians and wounded dozens of others, Yemen's state news agency Saba reported late on Wednesday, as residents reported further air raids around the country on Thursday.

The report by Saba, which is controlled by Yemen's dominant Houthi movement, could not be independently confirmed.

Local sources told the agency that Wednesday's air strike had killed 13 people. They also said six people had been killed when their car was struck by a tank shell in a neighbouring district near the border with Saudi Arabia.

A coalition of Arab states has been bombing Houthi forces, the strongest faction in Yemen's civil war, part of a campaign to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power. The bombing began in March shortly after he fled to Saudi Arabia.

The Houthis say they are part of a "revolution" against corruption. They seized the Yemeni capital Sanaa last September and now control much of the country.

Renewed Arab air strikes hit Houthi targets throughout the country on Thursday despite apparent progress toward peace talks.

Overnight around 12 air raids hit weapons stores around the presidential palace in the capital Sanaa, according to a Reuters witness, triggering secondary blasts which lit up the night sky.

Residents said Saudi shelling had hit the main border crossing from Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, demolishing the customs department on the Yemeni side of the facility in the far northern province of Haradh.

Air strikes also hit a naval base and the office of Yemen's naval command in the Western Red Sea port city of Hodaida, residents said.

The United Nations is planning to convene peace talks between Yemen's warring factions in Geneva on 14 June, a date agreed to by the country's exiled government but not yet supported by Houthi militia, diplomats said on Wednesday.

The Houthis want a ceasefire as a precondition for talks.