Middle East

Bahrain Says 2 Soldiers Dead in Attack Near Saudi-Yemen Border

Two soldiers from Bahrain were killed along the border between war-torn Yemen and Saudi Arabia, the Bahraini military said on Monday, in an attack highlighting persistent insecurity in the area.

The victims “were martyred while performing their sacred national duty to defend the southern borders of the sister Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” which has led a military coalition against Yemen’s Houthi rebels since 2015, the military said in a statement.

The incident occurred as Saudi Arabia is pushing for a durable ceasefire nearly a year and a half after agreeing to a truce with the Houthis that has largely held despite officially expiring last October.

The statement from Bahrain’s military said the “terrorist act” was perpetrated by Houthi “attack drones” in an undisclosed location in southern Saudi Arabia “despite the cessation of military operations between the parties to the war in Yemen.”

The Saudi coalition did not respond to a request for comment, and there was no immediate reaction from the Houthis.

However, the Houthis’ TV channel Al-Masirah reported separately on Monday that “four citizens” were injured in Saudi attacks on Yemeni territory near the border on Monday.

Bahrain was one of several countries that contributed troops to the coalition mobilized by Saudi Arabia after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognized government from the capital Sanaa in 2014.

The ensuing war has left hundreds of thousands dead through direct and indirect causes and displaced millions of people in what the United Nations calls one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Peace Push

Hopes for peace were boosted in March when Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has backed the Houthis, announced a surprise rapprochement deal.

The following month, Mohammed al-Jaber, the Saudi ambassador to Yemen, traveled to Sanaa to meet with Houthi officials in what he described as a bid to “stabilise” last year’s truce.

Last week, Houthi officials completed five days of talks in Riyadh, the first public visit by a Houthi delegation to Saudi Arabia since hostilities broke out.

Neither face-to-face meeting has yielded any major announcements, but both sides have described the exchanges as “positive.”

The process appears to have snagged on Houthi demands which include payment of their civil servants’ salaries by the displaced Yemeni government and the launch of new routes from Sanaa airport.

Also on Monday, Hans Grunberg, the UN special envoy for Yemen, concluded a visit to Riyadh for talks on what his office described in a statement as “a sustainable nationwide ceasefire.”

Those meetings tackled issues including “measures to improve living conditions in Yemen” and pay public sector salaries, the statement said.

“This is a critical juncture and Yemen needs the support and accompaniment of the region and the international community to navigate the path towards sustainable peace and development,” Grundberg said.

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