Children dead in new Saudi-led coalition airstrike on Yemen capital, UN demands probe
Children were among at least nine people killed in an air strike Aug. 25 in a residential neighbourhood of Yemen’s capital Sanaa, witnesses and medics said, as the United Nations called for an independent investigation into the deadly airstrikes.
The attack is the latest in a wave of deadly raids on residential areas of Yemen blamed on a Saudi-led coalition, drawing strong international condemnation.
The United Nations on Aug. 25 accused the Arab coalition of killing 42 civilians in the week to Aug. 24, including many children.
The air raid on Aug. 25 destroyed two buildings in the southern district of Faj Attan, leaving people buried under debris, said an AFP photographer on the scene.
The images he took showed severely damaged buildings, piles of smashed concrete blocks and splintered beams of wood.
The Al-Massira television channel run by the Huthi rebels who control the capital said the air strike had killed 14 civilians including six children, blaming the Saudi-led coalition for the strike.
Medics at the site and a rebel security source confirmed at least nine people had been killed.
Mohammed Ahmad, who lived in one of the buildings, said he was among those who had taken nine bodies to a hospital.
“We extracted them one by one from under the rubble,” he said. “Some of them were children from a single family.”
“When the rocket hit, one of the buildings was immediately destroyed which caused the building next door to collapse too. Some residents got out, but others were trapped.”
Some of them died and others were wounded, he told AFP.
The raid on Aug. 25 came two days after at least 30 people died in a series of strikes on Sanaa and its surroundings by the Saudi-led coalition.
The U.N.’s human rights office called for an independent investigation into the airstrikes.
“We remind all parties to the conflict, including the Coalition, of their duty to ensure full respect for international humanitarian law,” U.N. human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell said. “It is not clear at this point what investigations there have been and what they have led to.”
The coalition entered Yemen’s war in 2015 in support of the government against the Huthi militants, who are in a fragile alliance allied with troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The World Health Organization estimates nearly 8,400 civilians have been killed and 47,800 wounded since the Saudi-led alliance intervened.Human rights groups have repeatedly criticised the coalition, which controls Yemen’s airspace, over the civilian death toll from the bombing campaign.
Northern and southern Yemen have both come under aerial attack in recent months, and the coalition has come under massive pressure from international organisations including the United Nations for its role in the raids.
The United Nations has said the Saudi coalition was likely responsible for a July attack on the southwestern Taez province that killed 20 people, including children.
An air raid on a funeral reception in Arhab killed eight women and one child in February, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to announce it was “investigating the reports”.
The coalition has not however admitted responsibility for the attack.
The United States also regularly conducts drone strikes on Yemen which Washington says target Al-Qaeda.
Yemen also faces a deadly cholera outbreak that has claimed nearly 2,000 lives and affected more than half a million people since late April.
The combination of war, disease and a coalition blockade have pushed the country, long the poorest in the Arab world, to the brink of famine.