World Bulletin / News Desk
“O’Brien was stopped at a Houthi checkpoint when he tried to enter the city,” Colonel Abdu Hamoud al-Saghir, head of the Yemeni army’s 17th Brigade in Taiz, said.
Al-Saghir said he and a number of local officials had been preparing to receive the UN official, but that the latter had been prevented by Houthi militiamen from entering the city.
He went on to assert that, during O’Brien’s brief stay in the area, Houthi militiamen had opened fire on several government sites from positions in Houthi-held western Taiz.
Spokesmen for the Houthis, for their part, have yet to comment on al-Saghir’s assertions.
On Sunday, O'Brien arrived in Yemen’s port city of Aden -- the Yemeni government’s temporary capital -- where he met with President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, with whom he discussed the country’s dire humanitarian situation.
During his visit, O'Brien had said he was looking forward to visiting war-battered Taiz (which lies roughly 175 kilometers northwest of Aden) with a view to assessing the humanitarian situation there.
Yemen has remained wracked by conflict since 2014, when the Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh overran capital Sanaa and other parts of the country.
The conflict escalated in mid-2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched an extensive air campaign aimed at reversing Houthi military gains and shoring up Yemen’s embattled Saudi-backed government.