Yemeni hospitals serve as battlegrounds

Oct. 22, 2012 at 11:52 AM

ADEN, Yemen, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Yemeni national forces and their adversaries are putting civilian lives at risk by waging battles in area hospitals, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch reports that violence in the southern port city of Aden forced healthcare workers to close a facility there. Security forces, the rights group said, are endangering lives by removing suspected militants by force from hospitals.

"Gunfights in hospitals put patients and medical workers at grave risk and threaten to shut down health care in Aden," Letta Tayler, a Yemen analyst at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "Both security forces and their opponents are showing callous indifference to human life."

The organization said most of the suspected militants belong to the so-called Southern Movement, a coalition seeking greater autonomy for southern Yemen. Their supporters are suspected of making insecurity worse by firing at government forces near hospital grounds.

On Oct. 7, pro-government forces reportedly beat hospital guards in Aden's al-Naqib hospital. Alleged militants under hospital care were taken away by security forces at least five times this year, the rights group said. Most facilities won't accept patients considered "politically sensitive."

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