YEMEN HUMANITARIAN PAUSE COMES INTO EFFECT

Houthi Shiite Yemeni gather while guarding a street leading to the presidential palace in Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Yemen's U.S.-backed leadership came under serious threat Monday as government troops clashed with Shiite rebels near the presidential palace and a key military base in what one official called "a step toward a coup." (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)
Houthi Shiite Yemeni gather while guarding a street leading to the presidential palace in Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Yemen’s U.S.-backed leadership came under serious threat Monday as government troops clashed with Shiite rebels near the presidential palace and a key military base in what one official called “a step toward a coup.” (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Sanaa, 25 Rajab 1436/14 May 2015 (MINA) – A five-day humanitarian ceasefire has begun in Yemen, just hours after Arab coalition fighter jets struck against Houthi fighters and their allies.

It was not immediately clear if the two sides were honouring the truce, which began at 11pm local time [20:00GMT] on Tuesday, Al Jazeera quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA).

The pause in the fighting, which has killed hundreds of civilians, will test the two sides’ desire to enter into peace talks.

Both the Houthis and the Arab-coalition-backed Yemeni government say they are ready to respond with violence if their opponent breaks the ceasefire.

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Earlier on Tuesday, at least 69 people were killed and 250 others wounded by explosions after coalition fighter jets hit an arms depot near the Yemeni capital Sanaa, according to medical officials.

Residents said that explosions at a military base at Mount Noqum lasted until mid-day on Tuesday after coalition jets struck the depot late on Monday.

An official told the AFP news agency that most of the people killed and wounded were civilians.

Medics on the ground had given an earlier toll of five killed and 20 wounded.

The air strikes set off huge explosions that sent debris crashing into a residential area at the foot of the mountain, witnesses said.

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Elsewhere, in Taiz, shelling blamed on Houthi fighters killed at least 10 people.

Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, which is leading the Arab coalition, was quoted as saying on Monday that the truce might be extended if aid deliveries succeeded and if the Houthis and their allies did not engage in hostile activities.

The conflict in Yemen has killed more than 1,400 people – many of them civilians – since March 19, according to the UN, and the country of some 25 million has endured shortages of food, water, medicine and electricity as a result of a naval, air and land blockade. (T/P001/R04)

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Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)