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U.N. leader condemns airstrike on Yemen funeral, doubtful of Saudi denials

By Doug G. Ware
A bombed out district in Yemen. Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon supported calls for an international inquiry into two reported airstrikes in Sanaa over the weekend that killed more than 140 people in a funeral party. More than 500 were injured. Photo courtesy WFP/Ammar Bamatraf
A bombed out district in Yemen. Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon supported calls for an international inquiry into two reported airstrikes in Sanaa over the weekend that killed more than 140 people in a funeral party. More than 500 were injured. Photo courtesy WFP/Ammar Bamatraf

NEW YORK, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday supported calls for an international investigation into an airstrike over the weekend on a funeral party in Yemen that killed at least 140 people.

The attack happened in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa on Saturday as the victims were attending a funeral ceremony. It also injured more than 500 people. Witnesses said two airstrikes bombed the assembly hall.

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It's believed by many that the Saudi Arabian government was responsible for the strikes, though Saudi leaders have denied involvement.

"Despite mounting crimes by all parties to the conflict, we have yet to see the results of any credible investigations," Ban said. "This latest horrific incident demands a full inquiry."

Ban also called the attack "a heartless attack on civilians and an outrageous violation of international humanitarian law."

RELATED Saudi airstrike in Yemen draws protests, rebuke from United States

The secretary general's support for an inquiry follows calls for the same by many other leaders, including some in President Barack Obama's administration.

Ban also expressed doubt about the Saudis' denials on Monday, citing similar patterns of behavior in the past.

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"Aerial attacks by the Saudi-led coalition have already caused immense carnage and destroyed much of the country's medical facilities and other vital civilian infrastructure," he said. "Excuses ring hollow given the pattern of violence throughout the conflict. Parties cannot hide behind the fog of this war."

Earlier Monday, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein called for an international inquiry, citing a rise in civilian casualties since the collapse of Yemeni peace talks in August.

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