A U.N.-brokered cease-fire was mostly holding across war-torn Yemen on Monday 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 recognized government, and the Shiite rebels known as Houthis went into effect at midnight Sunday. 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. 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.
Yemen's Shiite rebels backed out of U.N.-brokered peace talks just hours before the negotiations were to start Monday in Kuwait, demanding an immediate halt to airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition that has waged a year-long war against them, officials said. It was not immediately clear if the negotiations were completely scuttled. According to two media officials linked to the Shiite rebels known as Houthis, rebel representatives have delayed their trip to Kuwait. The rebel delegation would not go unless there is a "full halt to the airstrikes" by the Saudi-led coalition, the two officials told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. A statement issued Monday afternoon on behalf of the U.N. envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, described the Kuwait talks as "delayed" and gave no details on when they might resume.
The UN special envoy has called the ceasefire in Yemen "a first step in Yemen's return to peace", as the truce in place since Sunday midnight seems to be mostly holding. Forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the Shia Houthi rebels who drove his government out of the capital, and the Arab-led coalition that intervened in Yemen last year all pledged to honour the truce after it took effect. "This is critical, urgent and much needed. Yemen cannot afford the loss of more lives," Ahmed Ismail Ould Cheikh, the UN's special envoy for Yemen, said in a statement on Monday. Previous efforts to stop the fighting in Yemen - which has left more than 6,000 dead and forced more than two million people from their homes - have collapsed amid mutual recriminations.
KUWAIT CITY (AP) -- U.N.-backed peace talks between Yemen's warring sides began in Kuwait on Thursday evening in an effort to end the impoverished country's year-long conflict that has killed nearly 9,000 people -- a third of them civilians, according to the United Nations. The talks were originally slated to begin Monday but were delayed because of an earlier boycott by the Yemeni Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies. There have been previous attempts at peace talks. This round in Kuwait is aimed at finding ways to resolve the conflict between Yemen's internationally recognized government, which is backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, and the Houthis and their allies, which include forces loyal to former longtime Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Just a day before the talks kicked off, the Houthis warned they could suspend their participation if there are continued violations of a cease-fire in place since April 10.
Residents of a western Yemeni city say fighting between Shiite rebels and government forces there has marred the first day of a U.N.-brokered cease-fire. The truce between the Saudi-led coalition, which backs Yemen's internationally recognized government, and rebel Houthis went into effect at midnight Sunday. It's meant to give Yemen's warring sides time to prepare for U.N.-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. They spoke Monday on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety.