Sanaa, Yemen — Two soldiers of the pro-government Yemeni forces were killed in an armed ambush against a United Nations convoy in eastern Yemen, the UN announced on Saturday.
According to a statement from the spokesperson for the UN’s International Migration Office, the two soldiers were killed while escorting a convoy traveling west from Seiyun to Marib. No IOM staff, who were carrying out an unspecified humanitarian mission, were injured in the attack, he added. No further details of Friday’s incident were given.
A local tribal leader and a UN official told The Associated Press that the ambush took place near the town of Al-Abr in Yemen’s eastern province of Hadramaut. Both spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
In a separate statement released Friday by Lt. Gen. Saleh Mohammed Timis of Yemen’s Special Tasks Battalion – an official branch of the Saudi-backed military – the two men were identified as Salem Saeed Qarwan and Salem Mubarak. Al-Bahri.
The attackers have not been identified.
Yemen’s ruinous conflict began in 2014 when Iran-backed Houthi rebels descended from the northern mountains and seized the capital, Sanaa. In response, a Saudi-led coalition, which includes the United Arab Emirates, intervened in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government to power. The conflict has since escalated into a proxy war between regional enemies Saudi Arabia and Iran, killing some 150,000 people and leading to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
Eastern and southern Yemen, which are under the control of the Saudi-led coalition, have seen an upsurge in infighting between different armed groups in recent months. The deadly clashes have often pitted forces backed by the United Arab Emirates, which currently control most of southern Yemen, against those loyal to the internationally recognized government. In August, a day of clashes between rival Saudi coalition factions killed 35 soldiers in the southern province of Shabwa.
Al-Qaeda also has an enduring presence in eastern and southern Yemen. In February, suspected militants from his global network abducted five UN workers in the southern province of Abyan.