Saudi-led coalition admits attack on civilians in Yemen

Sanaa air raid that killed 14 civilians, including young children, was ‘a technical mistake’, alliance says.

Friday's air attack toppled residential blocks in Sanaa's Faj Attan neighbourhood [AFP/Getty Images]

The Saudi-led military coalition took responsibility on Saturday for an air raid conducted a day earlier in Yemen’s capital Sanaa that killed 14 civilians, including several children.

“A technical mistake was behind the accident,” said the alliance in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Colonel Turki al-Malki, the coalition spokesman, said the alliance “regrets the collateral damage caused by this involuntary accident and offers its condolences to the families and relatives of the victims”.

The coalition accused Houthis of “setting up a command and communications centre in the middle of this residential area to use civilians as human shields”.

The attack came just two days after at least 35 people died in a series of attacks on Sanaa and a nearby hotel that rebels also blamed on the coalition.

Friday’s air attack that toppled residential blocks in southern Sanaa’s Faj Attan neighbourhood was the latest in a wave of deadly raids on residential areas of Yemen blamed on the Saudi-led alliance, drawing strong international condemnation.

The area has been controlled by Houthi fighters since 2014.

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday condemned the raid as “outrageous”.

Lynn Maalouf, the Middle East research director of Amnesty International, said the coalition “rained down bombs on civilians while they slept”.

She called in a statement for the United Nations to take action against Saudi Arabia over the list of civilian facilities struck in deadly air raids over the past two years.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen ‘a strategic failure’

The UN says the alliance was probably also responsible for a July attack on the southwestern Taiz province that killed 20 people, also including children.

“In the week from August 17 to August 24, 58 civilians have been killed, including 42 by the Saudi-led coalition,” Liz Throssell, UN human rights office spokeswoman, told reporters on Friday in the Swiss city of Geneva.

The coalition entered Yemen’s war in 2015 in support of the government against Houthi rebels, who seized Sanaa the previous year after forming a fragile alliance 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.

Separately on Saturday, a coalition of civil society groups in Yemen called on the UN to establish an international independent and joint commission for investigating alleged human rights violations and abuses inside the country. 

Yemen also faces a deadly cholera outbreak that has claimed about 2,000 lives and affected more than a half-million people since late April.

Source: News Agencies