A United Nations World Food Programme staff member has been killed in an attack in Taiz province in southern Yemen, the WFP and Yemen’s health minister have said.
Health minister Qasem Buhaibeh tweeted his condolences to the staffer’s family on Friday, calling for security forces to “arrest the criminals” responsible for the killing.
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He had previously identified the staffer before later removing his name and nationality.
Later on Friday, the WFP said that it was “deeply saddened” that the staff member had been killed.
“The loss of our colleague is a profound tragedy for our organization and the humanitarian community,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative and Country Director in Yemen. “Any loss of life in humanitarian service is an unacceptable tragedy.”
An unknown gunman on a motorbike shot dead the World Food Programme employee while he was having lunch at a restaurant in Turbah, a town in southwestern Yemen’s Taiz governorate, a source told the DPA news agency on condition of anonymity.
The assailant then escaped while the victim’s body was transferred to a local hospital, according to the source.
Yemen’s official news agency Saba reported the attack, saying it killed a UN employee and injured others.
Fighting between a Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s internationally-recognised government and the Iran-allied Houthi rebels has eased over the past year, although sporadic attacks continue, and a long-term peace deal still appears distant.
Yemen’s conflict broke out in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to intervene the following year.
In April, a Saudi delegation led by Mohammed al-Jaber, the kingdom’s ambassador to Yemen, travelled to Sanaa for direct talks with the Houthis, fuelling hopes for a negotiated settlement.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed directly and indirectly in more than eight years of fighting, resulting in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
The war has displaced 4.5 million Yemenis internally and pushed more than two-thirds of the population into poverty.