Saudi-led coalition to investigate Yemen air strikes

Reported air raids on a busy market in Haja province reportedly killed dozens of civilians, health officials say.

Houthi militants stand guard near a gathering held by Houthi loyalists against Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen''s capital Sanaa
Houthi rebels described the air attack by the Saudi-led coalition as a 'massacre' [Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

The Saudi-led coalition conducting an air campaign in Yemen said on Wednesday that it was investigating reports of mass casualties from air strikes on a market packed with civilians in the northwest

Varying death tolls were reported but it was clear many Yemenis were either killed or injured in a series of strikes.  

Three attacks killed at least 41 civilians and wounded another 75 on Tuesday, one health official said. Other reports said coalition aerial bombing in Mustaba district had killed many more civilians. 

 Civilians caught in the crossfire of battle for Yemen’s Taiz

“The number of casualties has risen to 102 killed and 44 injured,” Ayman Madkour, head of the local health ministry office, told Reuters news agency. 

He said nine bodies were charred beyond recognition and most of the wounded had suffered severe injuries.

The global charity Doctors Without Borders said more than 40 people – all of them civilians, including an eight-year-old in critical condition – were admitted to Abs hospital, in Haja city. 

Haja province borders Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels described the air strikes as “a massacre”.

A Saudi-led coalition statement issued on Wednesday in Arabic said that an investigation was under way. Repeated calls by Al Jazeera to military spokesman Brigadier-General Ahmed al-Asseri received no answer.  

READ MORE: Military action in Yemen – who’s for, who’s against?

Saudi Arabia and its allies, mainly Sunni Gulf countries, launched an air campaign in March 2015 against the mostly Shia rebels who control large parts of Yemen. Saudi Arabia fears the Houthis will give its regional rival, Iran, a foothold on the Arabian Peninsula.

More than 6,000 people – half of them civilians – have been killed in Yemen’s conflict since the Saudi-led intervention began, according to the United Nations.

Last month, as many as 25 civilians were killed when an air strike hit a market in the north of the impoverished country.

UN officials have called on the Saudis to halt the air campaign

 Arab coalition denies targeting civilians in Sanaa market attack

Source: News Agencies