Two former Bundeswehr soldiers have been detained by German authorities for allegedly attempting to build a mercenary force of up to 150 troops, which they planned to use to intervene in the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

Prosecutors said on Wednesday that the pair, identified only as Arend-Adolf G. and Achim A. in accordance with Berlin’s privacy laws, had been arrested in southern Germany on suspicion of leading efforts to found a “terrorist organization.”

The accused ex-military personnel allegedly planned to set up a force of between 100 and 150 men, made up of other former soldiers or police officers, to intervene in the Yemeni civil war.

Arend-Adolf G., said to be responsible for the recruitment process, had already contacted at least seven people “in order to win them over” for their scheme.

According to the statement, the two men’s driving motive was to earn around €40,000 ($46,560) “for each member of the unit” as a monthly mercenary wage by offering the army’s private services, specifically to Saudi Arabia. Despite Achim A.’s persistent attempts to contact Riyadh, however, the Saudi government agencies did not respond.

Prosecutors said that the two accused were aware the force under their command would inevitably have to kill people during the operation, and they knew there was a likelihood that civilians could die or be injured.

Saudi Arabia intervened in the conflict in Yemen in March 2015 to fight against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who ousted the government the previous year. The ongoing conflict has been dubbed as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis” by the United Nations.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the UN’s children’s agency UNICEF revealed that 10,000 Yemeni children have been killed or maimed since the Saudi-led coalition swooped into the war-torn country – an average of four minors a day. However, these are only the numbers that the organization has verified, meaning there could be a much higher death and injury toll.  

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