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Saudi-led airstrike near Yemeni capital kills dozens of civilians

Yemeni security officials and residents said at least 30 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the Nihm district of Sanaa province.
By Fred Lambert Contact the Author   |   Feb. 28, 2016 at 3:19 PM
| License Photo

SANAA, Yemen, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A Saudi-led airstrike against Houthi rebels near the Yemeni capital of Sanaa has killed at least 30 people, mostly civilians, according to local residents and officials.

Voice of America quoted Yemeni security officials and witnesses saying the strikes occurred Saturday near a popular market in the Nihm district, located northeast of the capital in the Sanaa province.

Yemen's state news agency, SABA, put the initial casualty toll at 60 killed and injured.

After Shia-affiliated Houthi rebels attacked from the north last year, seizing large swaths of southern Yemen, including Sanaa, Saudi Arabia formed a regional coalition of mainly Sunni powers to restore the government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Since March 2015, the coalition has conducted airstrikes against the rebels, allowing pro-Hadi forces to recapture the southern port of Aden and advance northward.

Saudi Arabia -- the largest arms importer in the world -- came under scrutiny earlier this month for its use of cluster-bomb munitions in Yemen.

"Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, as well as their U.S. supplier, are blatantly disregarding the global standard that says cluster munitions should never be used under any circumstances," Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the international Cluster Munition Coalition, was quoted as saying in a HRW report. "The Saudi-led coalition should investigate evidence that civilians are being harmed in these attacks and immediately stop using them."

Witnesses and human rights workers have likewise accused the Houthis of indiscriminate shelling.

Al Jazeera recently quoted United Nations humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien as saying at least half of the 6,000 people killed in Yemen since March 2015 have been civilians -- including 700 children.

A further 21 million Yemenis are reportedly in need of some form of aid.

An early-February Saudi-led airstrike on a cement factory in the Amran province -- which killed at least 15 people, including civilians working in nearby buildings -- came just days after Saudi officials said the air coalition would work to improve aerial accuracy to reduce the number of civilian casualties.

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