Saudi-led coalition in Yemen accused of 'genocide' after airstrike on funeral hall kills 140

US says it will 'review' its support after latest attack 

Benjamin Kentish
Sunday 09 October 2016 13:54 BST
Saudi Arabia has been blamed for the latest attack
Saudi Arabia has been blamed for the latest attack

The Saudi Arabian-led coalition in Yemen has been accused of carrying out a "genocide" after its latest airstrike killed 140 people at a funeral.

Mohammed Abdul-Salam, the Yemeni rebel government's spokesman in Sana'a said the airstrike was an act of "genocide" by the Saudi-led alliance, which is fighting the rebels.

"The silence of the United Nations and the international community is the munition of the murderers," he added. "Those murderers will not escape divine justice."

The strike is the latest of a string of bombings by the Saudi-led coalition that have hit public areas, including hospitals and markets

Saudi Arabia has consistently denied targetting civilians. The coalition did not immediately accept responsibility for the latest strike but said it would launch an investigation into "reports about the regrettable and painful bombing" in Sana'a.

The Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television network later stated the coalition had not carried out any airstrikes in the area.

The latest attack prompted the United States to launch a review of its support for a Saudi-led coalition fighting the government in Yemen after an air strike on a funeral killed 140 people and wounded more than 525.

White House national security spokesman Ned Price said the US administration was "deeply disturbed" by the attack. US support was "not a blank check", he added.

Mr Price said: "We have initiated an immediate review of our already significantly reduced support to the Saudi-led Coalition and are prepared to adjust our support so as to better align with U.S. principles, values and interests, including achieving an immediate and durable end to Yemen's tragic conflict."

The latest strike hit a gathering of mourners in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, when thousands of people were packed into the hall.

The funeral was being held for the father of Galal al-Rawishan, the rebel government’s Interior Minister who sources said was seriously injured in the attack.

Other mourners included a number of military and security officials from the Houthi rebel group, which seized control of Yemen after overthrowing the internationally-recognised government in 2015.

The airstrike is one of the deadliest attacks in the country’s ongoing civil war. Witnesses reported seeing hundreds of body parts strewn across the hall and rescuers collecting them in sacks.

One rescuer, Murad Tawfiq, said: “The place has been turned into a lake of blood”.

The Yemeni health ministry used radio broadcasts to summon off-duty doctors and call on residents to donate blood.


The United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said he was “shocked and outraged” by the “horrific” attack.

“The international community must exert pressure and influence on all parties to the conflict to ensure civilians are protected”, he said. “This violence against civilians in Yemen must stop immediately.”

A statement released by the Saudi Arabian government said: "The coalition confirms that its troops have clear instructions not to target populated area and to avoid civilians."

Yemen has been engulfed by civil war since 2014, when the Houthi rebel forces overthrew then president Addrabbuh Mansur Hadi. The Saudi-backed coalition is fighting to restore Hadi to power. The United States is also supporting the coalition with weapons, logistical support and intelligence information.

The latest attack prompted the US to review its support for the coalition, a White House spokesman said.

An estimated 9,000 people have been killed in the conflict and more than three million forced to leave their homes.

The high civilian death toll from the Saudi-led attacks has led to calls for British arms sales to Saudi Arabia to be suspended.

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