Yemen Crisis: Unesco condemns air strikes on heritage sites which killed nine

Director General Irina Bokova said she was distressed 'by the damage inflicted on one of the world's oldest jewels of Islamic urban landscape'

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The Independent Online

Unesco has condemned the destruction of ancient houses in the Yemeni capital’s old quarter on Friday, which killed nine people.

The air raid on the Sanaa area inhabited by relatives of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, was also reported to have wounded at least 60 people ahead of planned UN-sponsored talks in Geneva to end the Yemeni conflict.

Unesco Director General Irina Bokova has said she was distressed by the loss of lives and "by the damage inflicted on one of the world's oldest jewels of Islamic urban landscape."

Sanaa's old city has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years.

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Yemenis search for survivors under the rubble of houses in the UNESCO-listed heritage site in the old city of Yemeni capital Sanaa, on 12 June 2015 following an overnight Saudi-led air strike.

The old city was a major centre for the propagation of Islam with more than 100 mosques, 14 public baths and more than 6,000 houses built before the 11th century.

Residents said the warplanes had targeted vacant houses in Bait Me'yad, a district near the heart of Sanaa.

Mohammed Yahya, an eyewitness, said two missiles struck two Saleh relatives' houses while the third crashed in the middle of the neighbourhood, causing several casualties. Another witness said three explosions shook the neighbourhood.

"We felt as if the house was going to collapse over our heads," said the man, identified as Ali Ahmed. "We ran, with the children, and hid under the stairwell. It was terrifying."

The World Health Organization said on Friday that 2,584 people had been killed and 11,065 injured in the conflict.

Unicef reported on Thursday that 80 per cent of Yemen's population of over 20 million people now needed humanitarian assistance, after more than two months of air strikes and heavy fighting.

The United Nations said on Friday that talks between Yemen's warring parties scheduled for Sunday has been delayed by one day to Monday as one delegation was arriving late in Geneva.

Additional reporting Reuters

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