Salman makes gesture for Yemen, Sudanese martyrs

Cairo: Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz has ordered that 1,500 family members of Yemeni and Sudanese army troops, killed in an Arab campaign against Iran-allied Al Houthi militants in Yemen, be hosted for this year’s Haj pilgrimage, a Saudi official said on Monday.

The royal gesture comes in appreciation of “heroic sacrifices made by the martyrs,” Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Abdul Latif Bin Abdul Aziz added, according to the state Saudi news agency SPA.

The 1,500 pilgrims will be hosted as part of a Haj programme called “Guests of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques”.

The Haj is one of Islam’s five pillars. Muslims are expected to perform it at least once in their lives if they can afford it and are physically able. This year’s Haj is scheduled for later next month.

“This generous gesture reflects appreciation and gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives in defence of security, unity and territorial integrity of Yemen against the criminal Al Houthi militias supported by Iran,” the minister said.

In late 2014, Al Houthis staged a coup against Yemen’s internationally recognised government and seized swathes of the country’s territory, including the capital Sana’a.

In March 2015, neighbouring Saudi Arabia led an Arab coalition and initiated a military campaign against Al Houthis in Yemen after the extremists advanced on the southern city of Aden, the temporary capital of the country after their takeover of Sana’a.

Meanwhile, Yemeni security officials said armed men riding on a motorcycle have gunned down a senior intelligence officer in the southern port city of Aden.

The security officials say Col. Nasser Makrij was killed on Sunday while walking on a street near his home in Aden, the seat of Yemen’s internationally recognised government.

Makrij was the chief intelligence officer at Aden airport. No group has claimed the responsibility for the attack.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.

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