Dozens killed in Saudi air strikes on Yemen market, say reports


Two air strikes reported in Saada province close to Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia, with artillery fire 'delaying rescue teams'

Yemenis stand next to the rubble of a house that was hit by a reported Saudi-led coalition air strike (AFP)
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Last update: 
Monday 19 June 2017 8:37 UTC

At least 25 Yemenis were killed when Saudi-led coalition aircraft struck a market in the northern Saada province, a local health official said on Sunday, the latest in a string of deadly incidents in the 27-month-old conflict.

Officials from the Saudi-led coalition could not immediately be reached for a comment on the report.

Yemen has been torn by a civil war in which the exiled government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, is trying to roll back gains made by the Iran-aligned Houthi group, which controls most of northern Yemen, including the capital Sanaa.

The director of the Houthi-run Health Department office in Saada said the aircraft conducted two raids on al-Mashnaq market in Shada district, which is close to the Saudi border, on Saturday, killing 25 people and wounding at least one.

"Rescue teams were unable to reach the area for some time for fear of being hit by artillery shelling of the area," the official, Dr Abdelilah al-Azzi, told Reuters by telephone.

Reuters could not independently confirm the report because the area is very close to the frontline, but several Yemeni online news outlets carried a similar report.

A Saudi-led coalition air strike in March killed 22 people and wounded dozens when it struck a market in western Yemen near the Red Sea fishing town of Khoukha.

Khoukha and the nearby city of Hudaida are controlled by the Houthis, who overran Sanaa in 2014 and moved south to Aden in 2015, forcing Hadi and his administration to flee into exile.

The Yemen war has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than three million and ruined much of the impoverished country's infrastructure.

The Saudi-led coalition was formed in 2015 to fight the Houthis and troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh who have fired missiles into neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

In December, the coalition acknowledged it had made "limited use" of British-made cluster bombs but said it had stopped using them.

Nearly half of Yemen's 22 provinces are on the verge of famine, according to the UN World Food Programme.