Police arrive in Yemen to search for Indonesians

 Police arrive in Yemen to search for Indonesians

A special task force sent by the National Police arrived in Al Hudaydah, Yemen, after a five-day journey from Jakarta last Wednesday.

The head of the special task force, Sr. Comr. Krishna Murti, said on Tuesday that the team of seven had faced multiple inspections on their journey since they left Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at 7:30 a.m. local time.

"The team travelled by bus and when it reached Khashm al Harrad [Yemen], the local authorities told all members to get off the bus so they could inspect the luggage," he said in a short message to The Jakarta Post.

Krishna explained that after four hours, the local authorities confiscated all medication and 12 bullets brought by the task force. Afterward, all seven police officers and the bus driver were led to a hotel where they were interrogated for an additional hour by armed men.

"The men asked us why we were entering Yemen and we told them we were there to help Indonesian nationals evacuate. Alhamdullilah, we were allowed to continue our journey after that," he said.

Krishna said that on their way to Al Hudaydah, the task force searched five out of 11 checkpoints for remaining Indonesians due obstacles they faced at the border.

"At 5:30 p.m. we went to the hotel where other members of the evacuation team [from the Indonesian Embassy in Sana'a] were staying. We will continue our work on Tuesday," he said.

The Foreign Ministry recorded that there were over 4,000 Indonesian nationals living in Yemen, including 2,686 students and 1,488 migrant workers.

According to National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Agus Rianto, the special task force will be stationed in Yemen and Oman for 14 days.

Meanwhile, Saudi-led coalition jets bombed a military installation in southern Yemen on Tuesday as local tribes battled Shiite rebels and their allies in the area, seizing a makeshift camp and weapons, Yemeni military officials said.

The fighting in southern Ibb province came as the UN children's welfare agency warned that more than 100,000 people have fled their homes in different provinces in Yemen seeking safety from the violence. According to UNICEF, at least 74 children have also been killed since the fighting between Yemeni rivals intensified and the coalition airstrike campaign began two weeks ago.

A medical volunteer in the Maytam district in Ibb said the airstrike on a Republican Guards' camp wounded at least 25 troops. The Guards' unit is loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh who is allied with the Shiite rebels in their power grab in Yemen.

Residents say the camp was close to a school. The rebel television station, al-Masirah, said three children were killed in the airstrike. The medical volunteer, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, could not confirm the children's deaths.

About 50 kilometers south of the camp, local tribes battled with Houthis who had set up a makeshift camp in the area, driving the rebels away and seizing their weapons, a local resident said, also speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Civilians have paid a heavy toll for the violence that mushroomed from an internal power struggle into a regional war, drawing in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Children have been especially vulnerable, said UNICEF's Yemen representative, Julien Harneis.

"They are being killed, maimed and forced to flee their homes, their health threatened and their education interrupted," Harneis said in a statement, released Monday. Warring factions have also increased their recruitment of children under the age of 18.

The agency said at least 74 children have been killed and 44 wounded since March 26, when the Saudi-led air campaign began.

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