Dozens killed in suspected coalition airstrike on Yemen market

24 civilians killed in suspected coalition airstrike on Yemen market
3 min read
18 June, 2017
Dozens of civilians were killed on Sunday, after a suspected Saudi-led coalition airstrike targeted a market in the northern Saada province, officials said.
Markets have been it by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes [AFP]

At least 24 civilians were killed in an airstrike on a market in northern Yemen on Sunday, a medical official and witnesses said, blaming the Saudi-led coalition battling Yemeni rebels.

Most of the casualties worked in the Mashnaq market in the rebel-controlled Saada province on the Saudi border, an official at a nearby hospital told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Witnesses said the market was a centre for trafficking in Qat into the kingdom, a leafy stimulant plant that is widely used in Yemen but illegal in Saudi Arabia.

One of the witnesses said some of the casualties had "just returned from a trip across the border". 

The Saudi-led Arab coalition has been carrying out airstrikes in Yemen for more than two years, in a war that has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people, half of which civilians.

Saada itself has come under heavy bombing since 2015, when the Arab coalition intervened to support the government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in its fight against the Houthis, after the rebels captured the capital Sanaa and other major cities along the Red Sea coast.

But this is not the first time the Saudi-led coalition has caused civilian casualties in their war against the rebels.

Last year, the international community heavily condemned the coalition after hundreds of civilians were killed in multiple airstrikes.

On September 28, 2015, an airstrike smashed a wedding hall in southwestern Mokha, killing 131 people, however the coalition denied responsibility.

On August 15, 2016, coalition planes bombed a hospital in Abs, northwestern Yemen, the fourth strike in a year on a medical facility run by the non-governmental organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). MSF said 19 people died and 24 were wounded.

On October 8, 2016, an airstrike killed 140 people and wounds 525 others at a funeral in Sanaa. The coalition belatedly acknowledges responsibility.

Coalition planes have dropped banned cluster munitions and killed two times more civilians than other forces, according to the UN.

Houthi shelling

But Yemen's Houthi rebels, who maintain control of a string of strategic ports along the Red Sea coastline more than two-years since the intervention, regularly target coalition forces fighting in Yemen and sporadically launch rocket attacks targeting residential areas across the border into Saudi Arabia.

On Thursday, the rebels fired a missile at an Emirati ship near the Bab al-Mandab Strait, injuring one member of the crew in the latest attack on one of the world's busiest water ways, the Saudi-led coalition said, without identifying the vessel.

The ship was leaving the port of Mokha, in Yemen's south-west, when the attack occurred but the ship itself was not damaged, the coalition said.

In a statement on their press agency the rebels claimed the attack against the "warship" and said it took place on Tuesday evening.