Military clashes have died down in most areas of Nihm district; local residents and their livestock now fear landmines
Shepards northeast of Sana'a face minefields after Houthis push toward Al-Jawf, Marib
Before fighting erupted a few months ago in the Bani Faraj mountains of Nihm district in eastern Sana'a governorate, Sumayah Naji would spend most of her days herding sheep and collecting firewood. When the fighting died down a few weeks ago, after the Houthis forced government military troops to retreat eastward, Sumayah resumed her daily routine in a wider area thinking she could finally herd sheep across the whole mountain.
One day, while chanting and going about her work, the 35-year-old unwittingly entered a Houthi-planted minefield in the mountainous area and stepped on an explosive device. It detonated, leaving her drenched in blood.
“Her husband heard the sound of a loud explosion and rushed to check on her,” a local resident told Almasdar Online. “He tried to rescue her but another mine exploded under him."
Sumayah and her husband were rushed to a hospital in Yemen’s capital Sana'a. She died hours later, leaving behind three daughters, a son and a disabled husband, whose foot was amputated due to injuries sustained in the explosion.
The Najis are not the only victims of Houthi-planted landmines.
While the fighting has stopped for now in most areas of Nihm, death still threatens the lives of most residents and their livestock there.The Houthi minefields not only include strategic positions where the group used to clash with Yemeni government forces, but also other areas far from the battlefields where mines were planted as a precautionary measure to prevent any advances from the Yemeni army.
Two other residents in Bani Faraj were recently injured by Houthi-planted landmines. One of them escaped with leg and hand injuries, while the other lost his legs.
When eight residents from Wadi Mahally climbed to Jabal Al-Qatab and Kyal Al-Rebah, a mine explosion killed seven and injured one, according to residents from the area.
Residents have also lost their livestock to landmines in many locations they thought were safe. The landmines have made it impossible for people to resume their lives and move around safely. Many locals complain that the Houthis have not cleared the minefields in areas under their control.
“After our areas were liberated from the fighting, we tried to resume grazing, but the mines planted in the mountains and have turned our lives into terror, making every step we take dangerous,” one of the locals said. “Every day we lose some of our people, our livestock. Everyone is afraid of walking around and finds it difficult to graze his sheep, which we are forced to retrieve in the open mountains.”
The Houthi-planted landmines in various areas of Nihm are a long-standing danger to civilians’ lives. In the last month, mine explosions have killed 15 residents and injured nine, most of whom have become disabled.