Yemeni officials say Saudi-led airstrike kills 5

AP News
Posted: Feb 15, 2017 11:57 AM

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — At least one Saudi-led airstrike near Yemen's rebel-held capital killed at least five people on Wednesday, the country's Houthi rebels and medical officials said.

The head of the Houthis' media office, Abdel-Rahman al-Ahnomi, told The Associated Press an airstrike hit a group of women attending a funeral and a second airstrike hit first responders in Arhab, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Sanaa. He said the strikes killed and wounded dozens of people.

Medical officials said five bodies were recovered from the scene, mostly women, and that the toll was likely to rise. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

Abdullah Sherif, a volunteer first responder, said he helped pull the bodies of four women from the rubble and that rescuers were still looking for survivors. He said there was only one airstrike, not two. Conflicting accounts are common in the aftermath of attacks.

The war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 civilians and displaced over three million people.

A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Houthis and forces loyal to a former Yemeni president since March 2015. The campaign is aimed at restoring the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Earlier Wednesday, Doctors Without Borders warned of a worsening situation in the Yemeni city of Taiz, where hospitals have been repeatedly attacked and where some 200,000 people are facing shortages of food, water and medicine.

Djoen Besselink, the head of the aid group's Yemen mission, told reporters in Jordan that attacks on hospitals, ambulances and medical staff had severely limited the group's activities in the city, which has been partially besieged by the Houthis since April 2015.

Besselink, who visited Taiz last month, said he's "never seen such destruction" at the four hospitals his group supports. "There's not a single room without bullet holes, the windows are gone, there's no more equipment. It's total failure," he said.

He said the four hospitals treated over 10,000 people in 2016.

Saudi Arabia has also suffered losses, especially along its frontier with Yemen, where cross-border attacks are common.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency has announced the deaths of six Saudi soldiers over the past week, saying they were "defending the religion and the nation on the southern border" without providing further details.