American and British diplomats have called on the Houthi rebels in Yemen to stop a violent offensive in the north of the country. They make that call after a rocket attack on a gas station on Saturday that killed at least 17 people and injured five. According to the Yemeni government, the rocket was fired by the Houthis.

The attack in the northern city of Marib also killed a 5-year-old child. All victims are civilians, says the minister of information. He asked the United States and the United Nations to condemn the attack shortly after the attack, and spoke of a war crime.

“This inhumane violence must stop,” says the American embassy in a statement. The British ambassador to Yemen is calling on the Houthi rebels to cooperate in a cease-fire. “That would prevent such tragic losses,” he reports.

The Houthi rebels deny that they are behind the attack, saying that they only hit a military camp in Marib. They say they are in favour of an independent investigation into the incident.

For six years, the Iranian-backed rebel group has been fighting a civil war against the internationally recognised government, which can count on Saudi Arabia’s support. Since February, the rebels have been trying to take over the strategically located City of Marib from the government, but they are stopped by the government army and a coalition led by Saudi Arabia. In addition, the rebels have suffered heavy losses.

Since 2014, the Houthi have controlled the capital city of Sanaa, forcing the government to go into exile.

The Civil War in Yemen has already killed more than 130,000 people, creating one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. The United Nations World Food Programme reported earlier this year that some 50,000 people are suffering from a lack of food, and another 5 million people are also in danger of a food shortage.

The UN estimates that in addition to the more than 130 000 direct victims, a further 131,000 people have died as a result of indirect consequences, such as insufficient food and poor health facilities. According to the UN, 80% of the population is dependent on international aid.

The US Secretary of State Blinken spoke last Friday with his fellow minister from neighbouring Oman. In that conversation, the importance of a cease-fire was once again stressed, in order to put an end to the violence and inhumane conditions, the Americans said.

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