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AL-MUKALLA: Authorities in Yemen have foiled a plot to kill military and security officers after uncovering a Houthi cell of eight women.

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The women were planning to carry out attacks against local targets when they were found by police hiding in several houses in the central Yemeni city of Marib, a security source told Arab News on Tuesday.

The officer, who wished to remain anonymous, said security forces had been closing in on the all-female cell for more than a month and when the properties were raided they discovered GPS devices and a list of targets on mobile phones.

During the last five years, security and military authorities have busted several Houthi sleeper cells responsible for guiding ballistic missiles and explosive-laden drones that hit military, security, and civilian locations in densely populated Marib.

In September, a Yemeni court sentenced five Houthis to death for staging attacks in government-controlled areas. But the latest incident was the first time Yemeni officials in Marib had blamed the notorious Houthi policewomen authority, known as Zainabeat, for orchestrating attacks in the city.

Houthi officials denied sending the eight women to kill government officials, and instead accused the Yemeni government of taking the women hostage.

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Meanwhile, on Tuesday, official Yemeni state media said Houthis in the northern province of Amran had confiscated a number of homes and other properties owned by army generals who backed the Yemeni government and Saudi-led military operations in Yemen.

Led by Mohammed Ali Al-Metawakel, deputy governor of Amran, a group of Houthis raided the homes of Maj. Gen. Hameed Al-Qushaibi, an army commander who was killed, along with two of his brothers, in clashes with the Houthis in 2014 in Khamer district.

According to reports, the Houthis sealed the houses and wrote on their walls, “confiscated by the state.”

Since taking power by force in late 2014, Houthi-controlled courts have sentenced to death and confiscated the properties of hundreds of politicians, military and security officers, activists, and journalists who opposed their rule.

Yemen experts said the militant group was using judicial authorities under its control to justify stealing the properties of its opponents and was seeking to blackmail government officials into surrendering.

A security official narrowly escaped death on Tuesday after an improvised explosive device (IED) attached to his car went off near the historic city of Shibam in the southeastern province of Hadramout, local officials told Arab News.

Shibam district security chief, Col. Ahmed Nasher, was driving his vehicle on the main road between Seiyun and Shibam when the IED exploded, rocking nearby houses.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but local authorities in Hadramout have previously blamed Al-Qaeda and Daesh operatives for staging attacks. 

In May, the former Shibam district security chief, Saleh bin Ali Jaber, and four of his bodyguards, were killed in a similar attack near the old city.

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(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by WCT staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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