Militants loyal to Yemeni President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi take positions in Taiz, Yemen, on March 30, 2015. On Dec. 14, 2015, a Houthi rocket strike on a command center near Taiz reportedly killed Emirati and Saudi military commanders -- as well as more than 40 contractors from private security firm Blackwater, which is now called Academi. Photo by Anees Mahyoub/UPI | License Photo
TAIZ, Yemen, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- High-ranking military officers from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were killed Monday when a rocket fired by Houthi rebels struck a command center in Yemen's Taiz province.
Saudi state news reported Saudi Col. Abdullah al-Sahyan and Emirati officer Sultan al-Ketbi were killed during operations in the province but did not clarify further.
The BBC, quoting local media and Yemeni sources, reported the officers were killed in a Houthi rocket strike southwest of Taiz city. A Soviet-era Tochka missile reportedly struck a camp housing members of the Saudi-led coalition, including troops from Yemen, Sudan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Sahyan was reportedly the commander of Saudi special forces in Yemen.
The pro-Houthi Saba news agency said the attack occurred near the strait of Bab al-Mandab and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of soldiers and mercenaries, including more than 40 members of Blackwater, a private security firm that changed its name to Academi in 2011. Last week, 15 contractors from the company were reportedly killed in the same area.
The attack occurred one day before the beginning of a week-long cease-fire as the Houthis and Yemeni government began peace talks in Switzerland.
At least 5,700 people have been killed in Yemen's civil war, which began earlier this year after the Houthis, who are affiliated with Shia Islam, stormed southward and captured several cities, including the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.
In March, Yemeni President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled the country for refuge in Saudi Arabia, which formed a coalition of regional Sunni powers that began conducting air and ground operations against the Houthis.
Last month, Hadi reportedly returned to the southern port of Aden to direct military operations after coalition forces recaptured the city earlier in the year.