Saudi-led coalition airstrikes kill over 20 civilians in Yemen – reports

© Hamad I Mohammed
Two separate airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition on Saturday claimed the lives of at least 21 civilians in northern Yemen, according to accounts of witnesses cited by Reuters. Local media sources claim the number of deaths exceeds this figure.

Some 15 civilians were killed and 20 others injured when military jets targeted workers drilling for water in the Beit Saadan area of the Arhab district, north of Sanaa, the agency reported.

“We heard three explosions, and people rushed out to help the people working on the drills. Then the planes came back and launched five strikes causing this number of dead and wounded,” witness Saif Saleh told Reuters.

Four workers were killed in the first attack. When people rushed to the scene of the bombing, the jets carried out another airstrike, killing at least 11 more people and wounding 20 others.

The death toll from the two attacks was put at around 100, local media claimed, accompanying the reports with photos of burned bodies and destroyed equipment. Videos showing workers collecting bodies and carrying them away have also emerged online.

Some speculated that the Saudi-led coalition warplane might have confused the drilling installation for a rocket launcher.

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Saturday’s second attack hit the house of a local tribal chief in the Hairan district of Hajjah province, Sheikh Maqbool al-Harmal, and killed six civilians, according to residents.

Following the strike and reports of casualties among civilians, a spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition, General Ahmed al-Asseri, claimed that “all operations in the area were targeting Houthi positions and members.”

Saudi Arabia sent troops to Yemen to restore ousted Sunni president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power in March 2015. The intervention claimed the lives of at least 10,000 people, including almost 4,000 civilians, according to UN data. The majority of victims were killed in airstrikes.

Since the beginning of the war there have been reports of Saudi jets targeting schools, hospitals, marketplaces and other civilian buildings.

Peace talks mediated by the UN which aimed to bring hostilities to an end faltered last month and fighting continued.

In August a UN report said that the airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen are responsible for the majority of civilians killed in the ongoing conflict.