Saudi air raids kill 43 at wedding in Yemen

Sanaa—At least 43 people were killed and 41 wounded after airstrikes hit a wedding party in northwest Yemen on Sunday night, reports reaching here have confirmed.

Two missiles hit the celebration in the town of Hajja, several minutes apart, eyewitnesses and officials said.

Most of the dead were women and children who were gathering in a tent set up for the wedding party in Hajjah’s Bani Qays district, a medical official was quoted saying by Al Jazeera.

Khaled al-Nadhri, the top health official in Hajja, told The Associated Press that the bride was among the dead, who were mostly women and children.

At least 46 people were wounded in the attack, 30 of them children, the official added.

Video footage of a boy who survived the attack spread through social media, showing the child clinging to the body of what appeared to be his deceased father.

The child refused to leave the body’s side despite pleas from first responders.

The head of Al Jumhouri hospital in Hajjah told the news agency that the hospital had received 40 bodies, “most of them torn to pieces.”

International medical body, Medecins Sans Frontieres issued a statement.

“Following a series of nighttime air strikes on 22 April in Bani Qays, in Yemen, a hospital supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Hajjah, has received 45 wounded individuals.”

Among the wounded were at least 13 children, some of whom arrived to hospital in critical condition.

“Hospital staff in Hajjah are working around the clock to treat the wounded. Last night airstrikes were among the most devastating in the area in recent months,” the MSF said.

Health ministry spokesman Abdel-Hakim al-Kahlan said ambulances were initially unable to reach the site of the bombing for fear of subsequent air strikes as the jets continued to fly overhead.

Western backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen for more than two years.

Earlier this month, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres dubbed Yemen’s war the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with more than 22 million people — three quarters of the population — in desperate need of aid and protection.

The Yemen war began in early 2015, when US-backed government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi was driven out of Yemeni capital of Sanaa following a mass uprising.

The US has been supporting the Saudi coalition with arms sales, intelligence and military support.

The UK meanwhile, has been labelled “one of the principal backers” of the war due to its ongoing arms sales and military support for Saudi Arabia.

Last year US President Donald Trump agreed the “largest single arms deal in American history” with the Middle Eastern Kingdom.

The ongoing war has driven the country to the brink of famine with some 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid.

Saudi coalition air raids have repeatedly struck civilian targets while trying to target popular fighters who control capital Sanaa and much of northern Yemen

The coalition says it does not target civilians. 

On September 28, 2015, a coalition air strike killed 131 attending a wedding in the Red Sea village of al-Wahjiah, near the ancient port of al-Mokha.

On October 7, 2015, another air raid killed 43 people at a wedding in Sanaban village in the Dhammar governorate in Yemen.

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