Pro-government forces ride through Hodeidah, Yemen, where an airstrike on a fish market and hospital killed at least 55 people on Thursday. Photo by Najeeb Almaboobi/EPA-EFE
Aug. 3 (UPI) -- At least 55 civilians were killed in an airstrike on a market and hospital in Hodeidah, Yemen, the country's rebel-run health ministry announced.
Thursday's attack on the Red Sea port city also wounded at least 124 people, a ministry statement said. It added that the raid, blamed on the Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, targeted the city's busy fishing market and port and the main gate of the al-Thawra hospital.
"A bomb exploded just outside the hospital, on the street," an unnamed staff member of the humanitarian service Save the Children said in a report on the news website Middle East Eye. "Then there was another explosion towards the back. I saw people running and bodies in the street."
Residents of the Houthi-held city said they heard the sounds of warplanes before the attack. Although the Houthis do not have an air force, the coalition said it was not behind the airstrike.
"The coalition did not carry out any operations in Hodeidah today," spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki said Thursday in a television interview. "The Houthi militia are behind killing of civilians in Hodeidah on Thursday," he said.
The coalition, with logistical support from the United States, has undertaken attacks within Yemen since 2015 to reinstate the internationally-recognized government of President Abu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The rebels took the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, driving Hadi into exile. At least 10,000 people have died in the conflict since 2014 and over than 100,000 children have died from extreme hunger and starvation, Al Jazeera reported on Thursday.
It added that rescue workers told journalists that body parts could be seen strewn across the fish market. The attacks were unexpected, Al Jazeera added, because the Houthis and the coalition recently announced a ceasefire in and around Hodeidah to promote United Nations-brokered peace efforts.
The coalition began a concerted effort six weeks ago to drive the Houthis from the city, but the United Nations has organized talks, beginning Sept. 6, to help end the conflict.