Yemeni fighters of the southern separatist movement arrive at Sanaa airport before flying to Aden as part of a prisoner exchange with the Huthis on August 10, 2015
Yemeni fighters of the southern separatist movement arrive at Sanaa airport before flying to Aden as part of a prisoner exchange with the Huthis on August 10, 2015 © Mohammed Huwais - AFP
Yemeni fighters of the southern separatist movement arrive at Sanaa airport before flying to Aden as part of a prisoner exchange with the Huthis on August 10, 2015
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AFP
Last updated: January 1, 1970

ICRC oversees prisoner swap in Yemen's Aden: rebels

Seven pro-government activists were handed to loyalist forces in the Yemen's second city Monday as part of a prisoner swap overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross, officials said.

The activists belong to the Southern Movement, whose militants were locked in deadly battles with Shiite Huthi rebels, who they helped to push out of the southern port city in mid-July.

Rebel officials said the seven were released in exchange for an equal number of Huthi militiamen.

A security official at Aden airport said that the activists were handed over to the loyalist so-called Popular Resistance Committees.

The activists departed with ICRC head Peter Maurer from the rebel-held capital Sanaa aboard a Red Cross plane, according to an AFP photographer who saw the prisoners at the airport.

Aden was the scene of deadly battles between local loyalist forces and rebels who entered in March, days before a Saudi-led coalition launched an air war against the Huthis and their allies across Yemen.

Maurer arrived in Sanaa Saturday at the start of a three-day visit to assess the "dire humanitarian situation" in the country.

In Aden, Maurer visited the wounded in hospitals and met with top medical officials in the city, said Aden health chief Al-Khader Laswar.

The ICRC chief then wrapped up his visit to Yemen and flew out to Djibouti, security officials at Aden airport said, adding that Maurer did not oversee the release of the seven Huthi prisoners.

AFP could not immediately confirm if the Huthi prisoners were released.

The United Nations says nearly 4,000 people have been killed since March, half of them civilians, while 80 percent of Yemen's 21 million people are in need of aid and protection.

The ICRC says 1.3 million Yemenis have been displaced by the conflict.

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