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Air strike kills seven Yemenis
January 22, 2018 | 6:35 PM
by Reuters
People gather at the site of an air strike that destroyed a metal workshop on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Saada, Yemen January 22, 2018. Photo - Reuters
 
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Saada: Saudi-led coalition aircraft on Monday struck a building in northern Yemen that housed a clinic, killing seven people, five of them children, residents said, the latest in a series of raids that have drawn international condemnation.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition had no immediate comment on the attack, which residents said occurred early in the morning.

The coalition says it does not target civilians in its war against the Houthi group.

In a separate incident on Monday in southwestern Houthi fighters killed 12 people when they fired rockets at a parade being held by special security forces, medics said.



Yemen has been torn apart by nearly three years of conflict, with most of the populous north controlled by the armed Houthi group, while the south and east are run by the internationally-recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which is backed by a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia.

Residents of Sohar district, on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Saada, said warplanes had struck the building that housed a small clinic and a house.

As well as the seven deaths, five people were injured, residents said.

"A bus that was parked here was thrown behind the house and that house was damaged by the size of the bomb," said a man who identified himself as Abu Yasser as people gathered around the destroyed building.

In a separate raid in the same district on Monday two other people - a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy and her husband - were killed when a hanger and flour mill were struck by the coalition, according to the woman's brother-in-law.

A coalition spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on the attack.

The coalition has come under international criticism, including from the United States, following previous attacks.

The coalition says its pilots take extra precautions not to hit civilian targets and investigates each report.

In the incident in southwestern Yemen, Houthi fighters fired rockets on Monday at a parade by special security forces in the town of Al Maafer in southwestern Yemen, medics said.

The town is near to Taiz, Yemen's third largest city which is controlled by Hadi supporters.

The medics said one rocket hit the main viewing platform, killing 12 people, including two journalists covering the event, but the deputy interior minister in Hadi's government, Nasser Lakhsha, who was attending the parade, escaped unharmed.

Earlier, the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia said on Monday it would commit $1.5 billion in new humanitarian aid for Yemen.

The alliance said in a statement it would operate an air bridge to Marib, set up 17 overland corridors for aid deliveries and lead the expansion of additional Yemeni ports to receive humanitarian and essential cargo.

"We are backing a professionally planned and detailed humanitarian mission with military power and precision to guarantee that the humanitarian aid reaches the people who need it to lift their suffering," said spokesman Colonel Turki Al Maliki.

Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis, where 8.3 million people are entirely dependent on external food aid and 400,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, a potentially lethal condition, according to the United Nations.

The coalition has already pumped billions of dollars worth of aid into the country, yet the war has still cut food deliveries by more than half and pushed the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country to the edge of famine with outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria.

The new aid programme seeks to boost monthly imports to 1.4 million metric tons from 1.1 million last year, the statement said.

An accompanying graphic suggested that overland delivery routes would extend into northern territory held by the armed Houthi movement, which is fighting the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi based in the south.

Last week, Saudi Arabia deposited $2 billion in Yemen's central bank after the Yemeni prime minister made a public plea for funds to prop up the currency and help stave off hunger.

Monday's announcement comes as Saudi Arabia and its allies face mounting criticism - including from US and European partners - over the civilian toll of the conflict, in which more than 10,000 people have been killed by coalition air strikes and fighting on the ground.

The coalition, under international pressure, eased a three-week blockade imposed on Yemeni ports and airports in November in response to a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis toward the Saudi capital Riyadh.

US President Donald Trump last month called for Saudi Arabia to immediately allow humanitarian aid to reach the Yemeni people, suggesting Washington had run out of patience with the blockade.

The war's heavy toll on civilians has long been a sore point with members of Congress, triggering threats to block US assistance to the coalition including refuelling of jets and limited intelligence support.

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