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Five women killed in Yemen wedding blast

Government and Houthis blame each other for the deaths, which came a day after attacks in Aden killed 26 people
The aftermath of an explosion in Yemen (AFP/FILE)

Five women were killed when a shell hit a wedding venue in Yemen's Hodeidah city on New Year's Day, officials said on Saturday. 

The government and the Houthi movement have blamed each other for the blast in the port city, which came just two days after at least 26 people were killed in explosions that rocked the airport of the southern city of Aden as members of a newly formed government got off a plane from Saudi Arabia.

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The wedding hall was near Hodeidah's airport, a front line between the warring sides, on the edge of the rebel Houthi-held city. 

"The explosion struck at the entrance to a complex of several wedding halls," a witness told AFP, as a party was being held for a newly married Houthi supporter.

General Sadek Douid, the government representative in a UN-sponsored joint commission overseeing a truce, condemned the Hodeidah blast, which also left seven wounded, including children, as "an odious crime committed by the Houthis against civilians".

Hodeidah's Houthi-appointed governor, Mohammed Ayache, said on the movement's Al-Masirah television that "the forces of aggression never hesitate to blame others for their crimes".

In 2015, the United Nations called for an investigation after more than 130 people were killed at a wedding by a suspected Saudi coalition air strike. Again in 2018, at least 20 were killed when a wedding was hit in another strike blamed on the Saudi-led coalition. 

Saudi-backed government forces launched an offensive in June 2018 to retake Hodeidah, the main entry point for humanitarian aid to poverty-stricken Yemen, but a ceasefire has been partially observed since December of that year.