Yemen's Houthi rebels condemn hospital airstrike

AP News
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Posted: Aug 16, 2016 5:02 PM
Yemen's Houthi rebels condemn hospital airstrike

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen's Houthi rebels condemned the Saudi-led military coalition on Tuesday over an airstrike that hit a hospital, killing 14 people. Meanwhile, Saudi authorities blamed the Houthis for firing a projectile from inside Yemen that killed seven people in the kingdom's southern border region.

Tamim al-Shami, spokesman for the Houthi-controlled Health Ministry, said the strike on the hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders in the northern town of Abs was one of many attacks on civilians carried out by Saudi "aggressors."

Doctors Without Borders said one of its staff members was killed in Monday's airstrike. It raised the death toll to 14 on Tuesday after three more people died of their wounds. The medical charity, also known by its French acronym MSF, said 24 wounded people were still receiving treatment.

Yemen's conflict pits an internationally-recognized government backed by a Saudi-led coalition against the Shiite rebels, who captured the capital, Sanaa, in September 2014. The Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes in Yemen since March 2015.

Saudi Arabia's Civil Defense said four Saudi citizens and three foreign residents were killed Tuesday by a projectile fired from inside Yemen toward the kingdom's southern border region of Najran. Saudi state television said Yemen's Houthi rebels were responsible for the attack. The nationalities of the foreign victims were not given.

Images posted by the official Saudi Press Agency late Tuesday showed rescue workers extinguishing a fire that had engulfed a vehicle destroyed by the projectile.

It marks one of the deadliest cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia since the kingdom launched airstrikes targeting Houthi fighters in March of last year. A day earlier, a Saudi border guard was killed in an exchange of gunfire with militants from Yemen, the Interior Ministry said.

MSF, which has seen four of its sponsored facilities attacked in Yemen this year, said it was tired of reassurances that such strikes would not happen again.

"We do not want words, courtesies, overpromises which go undelivered," said emergency unit manager Teresa Sancristoval. "What we need to see is proof of intent and a commitment that there will be no more airstrikes on medical facilities, staff, and patients."

Raquel Ayora, head of operations of MSF in Barcelona, said the Saudi-led coalition "had the GPS coordinates of all our facilities," including where staffers are housed.

"The ability of all the system, the services in the country - foreigners or not - to provide assistance to people is decreasing sharply," she said. "It's a neglected conflict. It's a forbidden conflict."

Rights groups and U.N. agencies say over 9,000 people have been killed in the conflict. Fighting has picked up across the country after peace talks in Kuwait collapsed earlier this month.

In the southern Abyan province, where government forces launched a campaign this week to retake territory from al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, a family of five, including a 12-year old boy, was killed when the car they were riding in was hit by a coalition airstrike, Yemeni officials and residents said.

The officials, including a paramedic who had been on the scene, said the attack took place Tuesday in the coastal city of Shuqrah. A day earlier, officials said a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb in the Shuqrah area, killing three soldiers at a checkpoint.

Combat also resumed in the eastern outskirts of the capital, Sanaa, where officials said over a dozen people were killed in clashes involving tanks and heavy weapons. Pro-government officials said the dead were Houthi fighters, while Houthi officials said those killed were civilians. No independent sources were available to identify the dead.

And in the southern coastal city of Aden, gunmen assassinated a local Islamist party leader, Saleh bin Hallis, while security forces arrested some eight alleged al-Qaida members as part of raids against the group, security officials said.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to disclose the information.