Red Cross President Visits Yemen Amid Monthslong Civil War

August 8, 2015 Updated: August 8, 2015

SANAA, Yemen—The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross arrived Saturday in Yemen’s rebel-held capital, Sanaa, as security officials said a bomb inside a booby-trapped car at a key military base killed 15 anti-rebel fighters.

The visit by Peter Maurer, set to last until Monday, is intended “to highlight the dire humanitarian situation in the country,” the Red Cross said. It also comes after four Red Cross volunteers have been killed since the start of Yemen’s civil war.

Yemenis suffer from a shortage of food, water and medicine in the Arab world’s poorest country.

The booby-trapped car explosion happened late Friday at the Labouza military base, security officials and anti-rebel fighters said. They said it killed 15 of its forces and wounded over 20.

Anti-rebel forces on Friday pushed Shiite Houthi rebel forces out of Labouza, the last military base in the country’s south the rebels held.

The fighting in Yemen pits the Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against southern separatists, local and tribal militias, Sunni Islamic militants and loyalists of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

A Saudi-led, American-supported coalition began launching airstrikes in March against the Houthis and their allies.

Meanwhile Saturday, fighting erupted between local residents and Houthi forces in the Hazem al-Adeen area of Ibb province, killing at least six people, security officials and eyewitnesses said.

Fierce fighting also raged between Houthi and anti-Houthi fighters in Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city, and the strategic southern city of Zanjibar, security officials said. Security and medical officials said violence in those cities killed 17 civilians and wounded 27.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak to journalists.