Saudi-led airstrikes on a water well in northern Yemen have reportedly killed 30 people and wounded 17, a UN official said Monday, making it one of the deadliest attacks since peace talks collapsed a month ago.
The UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said in a statement that the casualties in the village of Beit Saadan included first responders and children. The strikes took place on Saturday, on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
McGoldrick said he is “deeply disturbed by the unrelenting attacks on civilians and on civilian infrastructure”, and urges rival parties to resume a ceasefire declared by the UN in April.
Yemen’s official news agency SABA, which is controlled by Houthi rebels, has reported that 100 people were killed or wounded in the airstrikes. Witnesses said an initial airstrike killed 13 people, but then a number of rescuers were killed in subsequent airstrikes. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.
The UN statement said it based its findings on its own sources and media reports. The Associated Press was unable to independently verify the death toll. The Saudi-led coalition made no statement regarding the airstrikes, but its spokesperson, Brig. General Ahmed al-Asiri, has said before that relief and rights groups are biased and give misleading reports.
Yemen’s conflict pits the internationally-recognised government, which is allied with a Saudi-led military coalition, against Shia Houthi rebels and forces loyal to a former president.
The Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthis and their allies since March 2015.
McGoldrick says the fighting has killed or wounded 10,000 people.
The Houthis, along with allied forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have also waged cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia. The coalition said Saudi air defence forces shot down a ballistic missile fired from Yemen before dawn on Monday. It says the coalition air force struck the area of the missile’s launching pad. No damage or casualties were reported.
The coalition, which is supported by the United States, has accused Iran of arming the Houthis, something Tehran and the rebels deny. Saudi Arabia and Iran are regional rivals.