US calls for probe into Yemen hospital bombing

US State Department spokesman urges transparent investigation into bombing that killed seven, including children.

Yemen hospital bombing
Save the Children says attacks like this on hospitals 'are a breach of international law' [File: Naif Rahma/Reuters]

United States State Department spokesman has called the bombing earlier this week of a hospital supported by Save the Children in Yemen “awful” and urged the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen to conduct an investigation. 

“I saw those reports, they’re awful. The United States takes them seriously and we’re seeking more information,” spokesman Robert Palladino told a media briefing on Thursday.

“We understand that the Saudi-led coalition has referred the results of this targeting operation to the joint incidents assessment team for their review and their investigation,” he said. “The United States urges a transparent investigation.”

Save the Children said a missile on Tuesday struck a gas station near the entrance to a rural hospital it supports in the northwestern part of the country, about 100 kilometres from the city of Saada.

The attack at around 9:30am (06:30 GMT) killed seven people, including four children, the organisation said in a statement. Among the dead were a health worker and the person’s two children, as well as two other children and a security guard. Eight people were wounded, it said. 

The missile hit just after the hospital had opened, and “many patients and staff were arriving on a busy morning”, it said. 

Palladino said the US was pushing all sides in the conflict to take steps to avoid actions that endanger civilians and civilian infrastructure. 

“The United States urges a transparent investigation by the joint incidents assessment team into these alleged incidents as well as swift implementation of the resulting recommendations,” he added.

‘Shocked and appalled’

Save the Children, which reported earlier this week that on average 37 Yemeni children a month had been killed or injured by foreign bombs in the last year, demanded in the statement on Tuesday an urgent investigation into the attack.


Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “We are shocked and appalled by this outrageous attack.

“Innocent children and health workers have lost their lives in what appears to been an indiscriminate attack on a hospital in a densely populated civilian area,” she said. “Attacks like these are a breach of international law.”

Thorning-Schmidt said the hospital is one of many Save the Children supports in Yemen, “but time after time, we see a complete disregard by all warring parties in Yemen for the basic rules of war”.

Ongoing conflict 

The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Houthi rebels, who toppled the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

A Saudi-led coalition allied with the internationally recognised government of President Hadi has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.

Air raids by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have hit schools, hospitals and wedding parties, killing thousands of Yemeni civilians. The Houthis have fired long-range missiles into Saudi Arabia and targeted vessels in the Red Sea.

The fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country has killed thousands of civilians, left millions suffering from food and medical shortages, and pushed the country to the brink of famine.

UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock has said about 80 percent of Yemen’s population – 24 million people – needs humanitarian assistance, including nearly 10 million “just a step away from famine” and nearly 240,000 “facing catastrophic levels of hunger”.

Thorning-Schmidt called for an immediate suspension of arms sales to the warring parties and diplomatic pressure to end the conflict.

“We must stop this war on children,” she said.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies