Saudi- led strike kills 120 Yemeni civilians
SAUDI- LED air strikes hit a residential area in a quiet Red Sea town in Yemen, killing at least 120 people in the deadliest strike against civilians since the March offensive began, security and medical officials said.
Hours later, the Saudi- led coalition unexpectedly announced that it would start a five- day humanitarian pause.
The air strikes hit workers’ housing for a power plant in Mokha, flattening some of the buildings, officials said. A fire erupted in the area, charring many of the corpses, including those of children, women and elderly people.
Wahib Mohammed, an eyewitness and area resident, said some of the bodies were torn apart by the force of the blasts and buried in a mass grave on Saturday. Some of the strikes also hit nearby livestock pens, he said. Human and animal blood pooled on the ground of the surrounding area.
The death toll highlights growing concerns that the Saudi- led coalition’s strikes are increasingly killing civilians as they continue to target Shi’ite rebels known as Houthis.
“It just shows what is the trend now of the air strikes from the coalition,” said Hassan Boucenine of the Genevabased Doctors Without Borders. “Now, it’s a house, it’s a market, it’s anything.”
He added that many of the workers had families visiting for the Eid ul- Fitr holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Mokha, populated largely by fishermen, had a reputation as one of the safest places in the country embroiled in war, Mr Boucenine said.
Saudi officials could not be reached for comment, and the Government’s official media did not issue a statement about the deadly strike.
Over the course of the war, rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have expressed concern that the Saudi- led coalition is violating laws of war and not doing enough to prevent civilian casualties.
It is not clear why the workers’ housing was hit. Yemeni security officials said the closest Houthi outpost to Friday evening’s strike is at least five kilometres away.
Four air strikes hit the residential area after Saudi- led coalition planes launched dozens of missiles on positions of Shi’ite Houthi rebels and their allies in the surrounding area. The strikes in the area continued on Saturday as dozens of families fled, security officials and eyewitnesses said.
A military official said the coalition had been given incorrect co- ordinates. He denied the co- ordinates had come from anyone in the district and said he called the coalition to inform them of the high number of civilian casualties.