Saudi-led coalition says Yemen civilians including children killed in air strike was by mistake
The Saudi-led Arab military coalition on Saturday admitted responsibility for an air strike the previous day in the Yemeni capital that killed 14 civilians, describing it as a “technical mistake”.
The attack was the latest in a wave of deadly raids on residential areas of Yemen blamed on the coalition, drawing strong international condemnation.
The coalition, in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, said a review of the strike investigators had found “that a technical mistake was behind the accident”.
Witnesses and medics in Sanaa said several children were among 14 people killed in Friday’s air strike that toppled residential blocks in Sanaa.
Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki had told AFP on Friday that he would “review the information” about the strike.
On Saturday, he said in the statement that the coalition “regrets the collateral damage caused by this involuntary accident and offers its condolences to the families and relatives of the victims”.
Friday’s raid targeted Faj Attan, a residential neighbourhood in the south of the capital that has been controlled since 2014 by Huthi rebels.
The coalition on Saturday accused the rebels of “setting up a command and communications centre in the middle of this residential area to use civilians as human shields”.
The International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday condemned the raid as “outrageous”.
Rights group Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, Lynn Maalouf, said the coalition “rained down bombs on civilians while they slept”.
She called in a statement for the UN to take action against Saudi Arabia over the list of civilian facilities struck in deadly air raids over the past two years.
Mohammed Ahmad, who lived in one of the buildings, said he was among those who had taken nine bodies to a hospital.
“We extracted them one by one from under the rubble,” he said.
Diggers worked at the site for hours after the raid as medics and residents searched for the missing.
- International pressure -
The coalition entered Yemen’s war in 2015 in support of the government against the Iran-backed rebels, who seized Sanaa the previous year after forming a fragile alliance with troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 8,400 civilians have been killed and 47,800 wounded since the Saudi-led alliance intervened in the Yemen conflict.
Friday’s raid came two days after at least 35 people died in a series of strikes on Sanaa and a nearby hotel that rebels also blamed on the coalition.
The coalition has come under massive pressure from international organisations including the United Nations over the raids.
The UN has said the coalition was probably responsible for a July attack on the southwestern Taez province that killed 20 people, including children.
“In the week from August 17 to August 24, 58 civilians have been killed, including 42 by the Saudi-led coalition,” UN human rights office spokeswoman Liz Throssell told reporters in Geneva on Friday.
Yemen, long the poorest country in the Arab world, also faces a deadly cholera outbreak that has claimed nearly 2,000 lives and affected more than half a million people since late April.
Massive opposition to the army’s takeover has evolved into what some U.N. experts characterize as a civil war. The new armed rebel groups opposed to the takeover have allied themselves with some of the major ethnic minority guerrilla organizations, stretching the military's resources. Offering generous peace terms to the ethnic groups could shake the anti-government alliances.
Canada announced Friday a ban on trade in luxury goods with Russia, and added 14 more Russian oligarchs and other associates of President Vladimir Putin to its sanctions list imposed over the invasion of Ukraine. The ban aligns with similar measures imposed by allies such as the United States and the European Union, and "will help to mitigate the potential for Russian oligarchs to circumvent restrictions in other luxury goods markets," the government said.
The UN human rights Michelle Bachelet's six-day China visit -- the first since 2005 -- beginning Monday will include a trip to the northwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang, where China has been accused of human rights violations. Bachelet will be in China between May 23 and 28 during which she will visit Urumqi and Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and the southern province of Guangzhou.
Russian supply of natural gas to Finland will be cut on Saturday morning, Finnish and Russian energy companies said Friday, after the Nordic country refused to pay supplier Gazprom in rubles. Gazprom Export, the exporting arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom, said it had not received payment for gas supplied in April and would therefore halt deliveries from Saturday. Gazprom Export said it would defend its interests in court by any "means available".
India has sent additional aide to economic crisis-hit neighbour Sri Lanka which will reach Colombo on Sunday, the Indian high commission in Sri Lanka tweeted. “People of #India, standing by their brethren in #SriLanka. Rice, milk powder and medicines worth more than SLR 2billion is scheduled to reach #Colombo on Sunday. The consignment was flagged off from #Chennai by CM of Tamil Nadu @mkstalin on Wednesday,” the Indian mission posted on its Twitter handle.