Yemen's Houthi rebels taking and torturing hostages – HRW

Yemen’s Houthi rebels are taking hostages and committing serious abuses – including torture – against them, Human Rights Watch says.

Former detainees told the US-based group that they were beaten with iron rods, whipped, shackled to walls, caned on their feet and threatened with rape.

HRW said the hostages were used to extort money or for prisoner exchanges.

There was no immediate response from the Houthis, but they have denied past allegations of human rights abuses.

The rebels seized control of much of western Yemen in early 2015, forcing President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad and prompting a Saudi-led multinational coalition to intervene in an attempt to restore the government.

At least 6,660 civilians have been killed and 10,563 injured in fighting since then, according to the UN. Thousands more civilians have died from preventable causes, including malnutrition, disease and poor health.

The fighting and a partial blockade by the coalition have also left 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid, created the world’s largest food security emergency, and led to a cholera outbreak that is thought to have affected 1.1 million people.

A report published by HRW on Tuesday said researchers interviewed 14 people who were detained by the Houthis and the relatives of two other men who were still detained or had disappeared.

A doctor said he was seized in mid-2016 by armed men from a hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah where…

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