SANAA, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Armed men robbed on Tuesday the Yemeni central bank's transport vehicle of 20 million Yemeni riyals while it was to deliver salaries to the Telecommunications Ministry's branch.
The branch is located in the southern Yemeni province of Lahj, a pro-government news website reported.
The gunmen intercepted the armored vehicle in Hota, the provincial capital city of Lahj, and forced the driver and the vehicle's security escorts to open the vault.
"They stole the cash and fled," the report quoted a local security source as saying. Security authorities launched an immediate investigation.
The central bank is based in Aden, the temporarily capital of the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
It was the third largest armed robbery in less than three months after the robbery of 30 million riyals in June from a private bank in Aden and 40 million riyals in May from anther private bank in the neighboring southern province of Abyan, according to local reports.
Yemen has been divided by more than four years of civil war between the government of Hadi, backed by Saudi Arabia and based in the south, and the Iran-allied Houthi rebels who control the north, including the capital Sanaa.
The war has pushed the country to the brink of famine and caused severe humanitarian crisis in the world.
The Yemeni riyal has since lost more than half of its value against the U.S. dollar.
Soaring prices have put basic food out of reach for many Yemenis.
An estimated 85,000 children under five years old may have died from extreme hunger since 2015 and other 30,000 children are fighting to survive, while more than 20 million Yemenis are at the verge of starvation, according to recent reports by the UN aid agencies.