California Man First American Killed in Ongoing Yemen Violence

Death tolls in Yemen continue to rise with a California man believed to be the first American killed in the current escalating violence between Iran-backed Shia Houthi militias and Sunni tribes supportive of Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who has reportedly fled to Saudi Arabia. Many countries are evacuating their citizens, but the United States has yet to follow, despite the reported death of an American civilian.

45-year old husband and father Jamal al-Labani reportedly suffered a fatal hit from shrapnel in a mortar strike last Tuesday that occurred in the city of Aden. Labani was traveling home from a mosque that evening, reported Fox 40. The gas station owner from Hayward, California is believed to be the first American killed in the surging Yemeni violence.

Labani repeatedly expressed concerns over the worsening situation in Yemen leading up to his death, according to reports.

Months of fighting have concentrated primarily in Aden, with President Hadi reportedly fleeing in February for Aden in southern Yemen until Houthi militias spread throughout the area. Ultimately, Hadi left the country for Saudi Arabia in March.

Saudi Arabia has been leading air strikes against the Iran-backed Houthi militias, though strikes on Aden have not stopped rebel advances, Breitbart News reported Monday. Reports as of Sunday stated that Houthi-controlled areas were experiencing an extended blackout that began Saturday night amidst airstrikes that hit the city of Sanaa. The battle further intensified with Iranian-supported Houthis conducting raids and arresting Sunni Islah party members.

Over 200 people have reportedly been killed in less than two weeks, according to city of Aden deputy Governor Naef Al Bakri, cited in the Fox 40 report.

Canada, India, China, Pakistan, Jordan, Turkey, Algeria and Thailand have evacuated their citizens from Yemen and Bangladesh is requesting assistance from India to do so as well, Breitbart reported.

The U.S. State Department states, “There are no plans for a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of U.S. citizens at this time. We encourage all U.S. citizens to shelter in a secure location until they are able to depart safely. U.S. citizens wishing to depart should do so via commercial transportation options when they become available.” The statement also noted, “The airports are currently closed, but may open unexpectedly.”

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