Foreigners leave Yemen as rebels move in on key port (dpa German Press Agency)

Sana’a (dpa) – India on Sunday evacuated almost 700 foreign nationals – mostly Indian citizens – from Yemen, as Houthi rebels advanced on the country’s largest port.
Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said three Air India planes had flown out 488 nationals from the rebel-held capital, Sana’a, in the “largest evacuation to date.”
Another 203 people were evacuated by sea from the south-eastern town of al-Shihr, Akbaruddin wrote on Twitter.
An official at Sana’a airport, who asked not to be named, said that Pakistani and Turkish planes had also evacuated a number of foreign nationals.
Sunday’s departures came a day after the Indian navy had evacuated a further 400 people from Aden port.
Yemeni airspace has been closed to most traffic since a bombing campaign led by neighbouring Saudi Arabia started targeting the Houthi rebels last month.
Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Gulf monarchies have been backing fugitive President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi, fearing that regional rival Iran stands to gain from a Houthis advance.
Forces loyal to the Shiite rebels advanced towards the port of Aden, one of the country’s key maritime gateways.
Local sources in the city, which served as the temporary capital until Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia late last month, said the rebels had pushed into the al-Ma’alla district around the port.
Despite heavy shelling, the Houthis and their allies had captured the provincial government headquarters there, the sources said.
In Sana’a, meanwhile, the Sunni Islamist Islah Party accused the Houthis of arresting “dozens” of its leaders and activists.
The party, which backs Hadi, said prominent leader Mohammed Qahtan had been among those arrested, while party offices and leaders’ houses had been stormed.
Youth activists have also accused the rebel militia of abducting colleagues who organized demonstrations against the group’s expansion.
According to the United Nations, more than 500 people have been killed and nearly 1,700 injured in Yemen over the past two weeks.
The Red Cross and Russia have called for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire to allow medical aid to reach areas hit by the fighting and let residents get safe access to food and water.
The Houthis, backed by army units thought to be loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, now control much of northern Yemen and are trying to advance on remaining Hadi loyalists in the formerly independent south.