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Civilian deaths reported as Arab airstrikes hit Yemen arms depots

Several civilians are said to have been killed as Saudi-led airstrikes continue to hit rebel sites in Yemen. France is meanwhile trying to verify a video purportedly showing a French hostage taken by unknown captors.

At least eight civilians were killed and 20 injured on Monday in explosions caused by airstrikes carried out by a Saudi-led coalition on Houthi rebel arms depots in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, according to a medical source quoted by AFP news agency.

Other airstrikes reportedly hit rebel strongholds in the province of Saada and suburbs of the southern port city of Aden, which has seen heavy street fighting between the insurgents and local fighters in recent weeks.

More than a hundred civilians are thought to have been killed so far in the two-month

air campaign by Sunni Muslim states

, who want to see the restoration to power of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, currently in exile in Saudi Arabia after being ousted by the Shiite Houthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies also fear that Shiite Iran might be using the rebels as a proxy to gain a foothold on the Arabian Peninsula.

Kidnapping video

A French Foreign Ministry official has meanwhile said that authorities were trying to authenticate a video purportedly showing a Frenchwoman taken hostage in Sanaa on February 24, along with her Yemeni translator Shereen Makawi.

Nespaper photo showin the kidnapped women. EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

Prime (r.) and Makawi were kidnapped on their way to work

In the video posted on YouTube, the woman, Isabelle Prime, is shown appealing in English to President Francois Hollande to seek her release.

It is the first video to be released by her captors.

Prime was working as a consultant for Yemen's Social Fund for Development when she was captured by unknown gunmen.

In recent years, Yemeni tribesmen have frequently kidnapped foreigners in order to extort services from the government or obtain the release of jailed relatives.

They have also often reportedly sold their captives to the Yemen branch of terrorist network al Qaeda.

tj/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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