Heavy blasts rock Yemen capital

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An armed Yemeni man walks atop the ruins of buildings destroyed in an air-strike by the Saudi-led coalition in Sanaa on September 10, 2015

An armed Yemeni man walks atop the ruins of buildings destroyed in an air-strike by the Saudi-led coalition in Sanaa on September 10, 2015 (AFP Photo/Mohammed Huwais)

Aden (AFP) - Heavy explosions rocked areas in and around the Yemeni capital late Thursday as Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombarded Shiite rebel positions, witnesses said.

The latest raids followed reports that warplanes had killed eight civilians, including several beekeepers, during air strikes targeting the Iran-backed rebels.

The pro-government coalition has intensified raids against rebel forces since a deadly missile attack on Friday killed 60 Gulf troops in Marib province east of the capital Sanaa.

Thursday's explosions in Sanaa were so strong that rockets and other weapons from the Al-Hafa military camp were projected into a nearby neighbourhood.

There were also air strikes on rebel targets in the central Baida province.

Late Wednesday, warplanes pounded rebel positions in Bayhan, on the border between Shabwa and Marib provinces.

They hit a honey farm and "six beekeepers and two other civilians were killed by mistake", an official in Bayhan said.

The area is believed to have been the launching ground for the Tochka missile that killed the Gulf soldiers -- 45 Emiratis, 10 Saudis and five Bahrainis.

The coalition launched an air war in March in support of forces loyal to exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, after the insurgents advanced on south Yemen after they had seized the capital in September 2014.

After recapturing the southern port city of Aden in July, loyalists launched a ground operation which has driven back the rebels from five southern provinces, although the Huthis still control Sanaa and much of northern and central Yemen.

Gulf Arab members of the coalition have reportedly sent thousands of heavily armed reinforcements to Yemen, mainly to Marib, in preparation for an anticipated offensive to retake Sanaa.

The exiled government has announced that 10,000 Yemeni fighters are now ready to serve in a "national army being prepared to liberate Sanaa and other provinces".