Saudi-led coalition helicopter attack kills 25 civilians in Yemen

  • Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Sep 28, 2015 00:03 IST
The sky over Sanaa is illuminated by anti-aircraft fire during a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen's capital Sanaa. (REUTERS)

Air strikes by helicopters from a Saudi-led alliance killed 25 civilians in a Yemeni village on Sunday, residents and medics said, adding that most of the victims were women and children.

“People were fleeing their homes as the helicopters pursued, They committed a massacre for no reason,” a resident who called himself Khaled told Reuters by phone.

The incident in the village of Bani Zela, in Yemen’s Red Sea border area with Saudi Arabia, comes a day after the kingdom announced that three of its officers, including a general, had been killed along the frontier.

An Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been pounding the Iran-allied Houthi militia in Yemen from the air for six months, trying to eject the group from the capital Sanaa and restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power.

The campaign has resulted in several mass killings of civilians, including 36 people at a water bottling plant in August and 25 workers at a milk factory in April.

The attack on Bani Zela may signal an escalation in combat along the border. The target of the strikes was unclear and a spokesman for the alliance could not be immediately reached for comment.

Border Deaths

A Saudi brigadier general died in hospital of wounds suffered in an incident on the border with Yemen, the kingdom’s armed forces said on Saturday.

Ibrahim Omar Ibrahim Hamzi, deputy commander of the 8th brigade in Saudi Arabia’s southern Jizan province, was injured “defending the nation and its citizens,” the statement said, without providing any details.

His death follows the killing of two border officers along the frontier on Saturday.

About 100 Saudi military personnel, including another general, have been killed along the border with Yemen since the Saudi-led campaign began in March, according to a Reuters count.

More than 4,500 Yemenis have also died since March, according to U.N. figures.

In the latest fighting, coalition air strikes pounded suspected Houthi targets in the capital around 25 times, residents said, and hit several other central provinces.

Gulf troops and allied Yemeni tribesmen were fighting ground battles against militiamen and their allies in Yemen’s army in the desert province of Marib 120 km (75 miles) east of Sanaa on Sunday.

The two sides exchanged artillery fire in a coalition push for the strategic foothills leading to Sanaa on Saturday, backed by Arab air strikes.

At least 20 bodies from both sides were seen on the battlefield, a local official told Reuters.

Hadi arrived in the southern port city of Aden on Tuesday, a week after his government’s formal return to Yemeni soil from Saudi Arabia.

But he left the country again on Sunday, local officials said, en route to the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. It remains unclear whether he will return again to Yemen or go back to Saudi Arabia.

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