The death toll from Houthi-fired ballistic missiles that struck a strategic air base of Yemen's government forces in the southern province of Lahj climbed to 40, local officials said on Sunday.
An official of Lahj's local authority told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that the Houthi rebel group launched a coordinated attack using three ballistic missiles and two explosive-laden drones against the government forces stationed at the Anad military air base in Lahj, the Xinhua news agency reported.
"Soldiers of the 3rd Giants Brigades were struck by three ballistic missiles while they were gathering for morning military training exercises inside the large air base of Anad," he said.
"Another two explosive-laden drones targeted other government soldiers while they were having their breakfast inside the same air base," he added.
More than 40 soldiers, including senior officers, of the pro-government Giants Brigades forces were killed and nearly 70 others were left injured by the Houthi coordinated attack in Lahj, according to the official.
Another official of pro-government Yemeni forces said that "the Houthis used their intelligence agents to plan this deadly attack against the government forces and exploited a lack of air defences in the area."
He said that a number of previous Houthi missile attacks were carried out against the strategic Anad air base during the past period.
A medical official of Lahj's health department said that the medical centres and hospitals in Lahj were overwhelmed by the number of injured soldiers following the Houthi attack.
"The hospitals are now fully crowded with scores of injured soldiers amid lack of medical equipment to save their lives," said the health official.
He urged the Yemeni government and the local humanitarian organizations to intervene and help the medical teams in coping with the large number of injured soldiers.
Witnesses said that a series of huge explosions rocked the Anad air base and plumes of smoke covered the area.
The Anad airbase, which is located 60 km to the north of Aden, is considered as the largest military airbase in Yemen. Forces of the Saudi-led coalition are using military bases including Anad air base in Lahj for training hundreds of newly-recruited Yemeni government soldiers to fight the Houthi militia.
Yemen's internationally-backed government, allied with the Saudi-led Arab military coalition, has for about seven years been battling the Iran-backed Houthi rebels for control of the impoverished Arab country.