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'Gunshots to the heart': Red Cross aid worker killed in Yemen

Security sources tell MEE that the gunman fled the scene and has still not been captured
Hana Lahoud died as a result of his injuries according to an ICRC statement (ICRC)

TAIZ, Yemen  A gunman shot dead a Lebanese aid worker from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Saturday near the city of Taiz, southern Yemen.

The incident took place early in the morning when a team of aid workers from the ICRC was returning from Taiz city. 

The ICRC confirmed to Middle East Eye that Hanna Lahoud, a Lebanese employee, was killed, stating that they were trying to find out more about the incident. Yemeni officials also confirmed to Reuters the identity and nationality of the slain aid worker.

"One of our colleagues was killed by an armed man in Taiz city," Sanaa-based Red Cross official Adnan Hizam told AFP.

The aid worker was killed by multiple gunshots to the heart, according to a hospital source who spoke on condition of anonymity to AFP. A statement by the ICRC confirmed that Lahoud had died as a result of his injuries. 

It was a mistake by the team to stop in al-Dhabab area where there are many militants and the team does not have guards

Taiz Security offiicial 

"The team stopped their car in the al-Dhabab area to buy local cheese, and then a gunman came towards the team by motorcycle and opened fire on the car, killing the Lebanese employee Hanna Lahoud," a source in the Taiz Security office told MEE.

Al-Dhabab, or Zabab, area is the southwestern entrance of Taiz city, which is under the control of the pro-government forces. Lahoud was killed near one of their checkpoints.

The killer fled the area, and the pro-government forces are still searching for the gunman. 

"It was a mistake by the team to stop in al-Dhabab area, where there are many militants and the team does not have guards. We are still chasing the killer, and definitely we will arrest him," the source added.

Most of Taiz is controlled by forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, while the Houthi rebels still hold many parts of the surrounding area.

This is the first time an aid worker has been killed in the war-torn city during the Yemeni civil war, sparking fears that other organisations will be afraid to send their employees to Taiz.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. 

"We know that there are some groups who try to create chaos in the city and exaggerate the suffering of Taiz residents, but the pro-government forces are responsible to find these groups and save this city," Ahmed Abdul Hamid, a resident in Taiz, told MEE.

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in the country in March 2015 to push back Houthi rebels who forced the government into exile.

The United Nations says the conflict has triggered the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with over 22 million people dependent on aid and 8.4 million on the verge of famine.

Yemen is also struggling with cholera and diphtheria outbreaks.

AFP and Reuters contributed to this report. 

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