International

Saudi-led troops fight rebel forces

south of Yemen’s Hodeida

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s exiled government captured a town south of the port city of Hodeida on Thursday as fierce fighting and airstrikes pounded the area on the second day of an offensive to capture the strategic harbor that is the main entry point for food in a country teetering on the brink of famine.

A Saudi military spokesman said the forces were drawing closer to the Red Sea port in a campaign aimed at driving out Iranian-aligned Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who have held Hodeida since 2015, and breaking the civil war’s long stalemate.

International aid agencies and the United Nations have warned the assault could shut down the vital aid route for some 70 percent of Yemen’s food, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies. Around two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are already at risk of starving.

The United Arab Emirates ambassador to U.N. agencies in Geneva maintained the Saudi-Emirati coalition had no choice but to act.

Donkeys stolen, skinned in

Africa to feed Chinese demand

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Dawn was just beginning to break when Joseph Kamonjo Kariuki woke to find his donkeys missing. The villager searched the bush frantically for the animals he depends on to deliver water for a living, but they were nowhere to be found.

It was the village’s children who led Kariuki to the ghastly remains: three bloody, severed donkey heads lying on the ground.

“I was in shock,” said Kariuki, 37, who is known in his Kenyan village of Naivasha as “Jose wa Mapunda”“Joseph of the Donkeys” in Swahili.

Kariuki believes his donkeys were the latest victims of a black market for donkey skins, the key ingredient in a Chinese health fad that’s threatening the beasts of burden many Africans rely on for farm work and transporting heavy loads.

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