Houthi militias have been trying to retain control over their areas on the fronts of Saada and the West Coast by planting tens of thousands of mines to impede the Yemeni army's advance, Yemeni military sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The sources said that over recent weeks, Houthi militants have planted thousands of mines in several areas to hinder the advance of government forces and brigades led by Brigadier Tariq Saleh, nephew of late former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
They planted the mines without maps, which will complicate locating and dismantling them, in a move that violates all international, legal and humanitarian norms.
Local Yemeni sources said the group placed thousands of mines across the coastal districts in preparation for the imminent battle by the government forces aimed at completing the liberation of Hodeidah.
The Houthis also planted mines in fields surrounding Zabid city. The city center is one of the oldest cities in Yemen and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.
In addition, government forces speculated that a mine explosion in the liberated areas between Hays and al-Khokha on the West Coast three days ago killed pro-government resistance commander Hassan Dubla and his companions.
Yemeni government sources also reported on Tuesday that another Houthi antipersonnel landmine killed a woman and her child in a village west of Taiz. The mother, Sabah Sultan Saif, 30, and her five-year-old son, Moaz al-Abbasi, were killed as they were bringing water to their family.
Director of the National Center for Controlling Landmines, Brigadier Ameen al-Akaili stated that Yemen has been victim to the largest landmine-planting operation since the end of the Second World War. He revealed that in three years, Houthis planted around 500,000 mines.
"No other country in the Middle East and North Africa is suffering from the landmines calamity more than Yemen," Akaili was quoted by the state-owned Saba news agency as saying.
In the last couple of years, technical teams from the government's armed forces have managed to remove some 300,000 landmines in areas under their control.
He added that teams have removed 40,000 landmines from Marib province and about 16,000 from the Island of Myoun in the Mandeb Strait.
According to Yemeni army officials, hardly a day goes by without the special forces removing between 200 and 300 Houthi mines, especially on the West Coast and Saada fronts, where clashes have intensified.
Previously, the London-based Conflict Armament Research Center revealed that the Houthis use explosive devices concealed in the shape of rocks, a tactic used by “Hezbollah” in southern Lebanon and insurgents in Iraq and Bahrain.
This proves, according to the center, that Iran is providing Houthis with the necessary resources for the local manufacturing of mines.
The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights’ latest official report said that Houthi landmines in liberated areas killed 440 people, mostly women and children, and injured over 560 others.