Saudi- led strike kills 120 Ye­meni civil­ians

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

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.

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