ADEN, Yemen, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Yemeni defense minister and several other government officials narrowly escaped a drone attack carried out by the Houthi group on their convoy in the country's southwestern province of Taiz on Saturday, a government official told Xinhua.
"The Houthis used their explosive-laden drones and struck the convoy carrying the Defense Minister Mohsen Al-Daari, general Sagheer bin Aziz, the country's chief of staff and other government officials including the governor of Taiz province," the local government official said on condition of anonymity, adding that they escaped the Houthi attack unharmed.
The drone attack killed three soldiers and injured several others, including the minister's bodyguards and the military police who were escorting the convoy.
The official said that the minister's convoy was traveling from the city of Mocha on Yemen's western coast and heading to the city of Taiz when it was targeted by Houthis in a rural village.
At the same time, there were other Houthi attacks that included firing shells at sites of Yemeni government forces to the west of Taiz, as well as at residential areas within the city, according to local residents.
The recent Houthi attack on the Yemeni government officials dealt a serious blow to the international diplomatic efforts aimed at reducing violence and promoting peace in Yemen, jeopardizing the progress that has been made thus far.
It also comes at a particularly critical time, as the two warring sides had agreed in Switzerland to exchange hundreds of war prisoners under the auspices of the United Nations.
The UN-sponsored prisoner agreement was seen as a significant step towards building trust between the Yemeni warring parties and moving towards more negotiations to achieve a lasting peace agreement.
On Friday, Yemen's government warned of a possible return to all-out military conflict in the war-ravaged Arab country following an uptick in attacks by the Houthi militia in the central oil-rich province of Marib.
Various regions in Yemen have witnessed sporadic armed confrontations between the local warring factions, after a cease-fire brokered by the United Nations in April last year expired six months later.
Yemen has been embroiled in a devastating civil war since 2014, with the Houthis fighting against the internationally-recognized government and its allies, which include a Saudi Arabia-led coalition.
The years-long war brought the Arab world's poorest country to the brink of collapse, causing famine and widespread sufferings as well as disrupting the country's food supply chain, leaving millions of people without access to adequate nutrition. ■