Yemeni officials say explosive device has killed 4 children

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SANAA, Yemen (AP) Yemeni health officials on Tuesday said an explosive device has gone off near the flashpoint port city of Hodeida, killing at least four children.

The explosion took place late on Monday in the town of Wadi Nakhla in the southern district of Hays, the officials said.

Two other children were wounded, they said. All the causalities were from the same family.

The officials blamed the Houthi rebels, saying they scattered land mines and explosive devices in areas under their control in Hodeida to hamper a push by government forces last year.

Recent heavy rainfall and floods in the region have exposed land mines, which are largely unmapped and remain a threat to civilians.

Yemen's war pits the Iran-aligned rebels against the internationally recognized government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition since March 2015.

Elsewhere in the war-torn country, security officials and tribal leaders said forces loyal to the internationally recognized government have captured a strategic town on Tuesday from the rebels in the southern province of Dhale.

They said the fighting for the town of Fakher has killed around two dozen fighters from the two sides and wounded more than 300 others. The town is located on the main roads that lead to the rebel-held Ibb province.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, and the tribal leaders demanded anonymity for fear of reprisal.

The government forces said in a statement they had taken dozens of villages and towns in their attack from the Houthis in Dhale.

Majed al-Sheibi, a spokesman for the government forces in Dhale, said they advanced on Ibb to "liberate it from the Houthis" who control Yemen's north and the capital, Sanaa.

The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Houthis, who drove out the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

In March 2015, the coalition launched its air campaign to prevent the rebels from overrunning the south.

The fighting in the Arab world's poorest country has killed tens of thousands of people and left millions suffering from food and medical care shortages and pushed the country to the brink of famine.

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