SANA’A At least eight civilians were killed and dozens more wounded as US-backed Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed residential areas of Yemeni capital.
The air raids were in response to the daring Yemeni drone attacks on key oil facility deep inside Saudi Arabia earlier this week.
In Thursday’s string of air raids on the capital, eight civilians, including women and children, were killed and dozens wounded.
The coalition carried out 11 attacks on Sana’a in all, out of a total of 19 across rebel-held territory on Thursday, the rebel-run Masirah TV channel reported. It blamed “aircraft of the [Saudi-led] aggression”.
Saudi-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya quoted a coalition statement as saying it launched an operation aimed at “neutralising the ability of the Houthi militia to carry out acts of aggression”.
“The sorties achieved its goals with full precision,” it said, adding civilians had been warned to avoid those targets.
However a Reuters journalist reporting from the scene of attack saw a crowd of men pulling bodies from a demolished apartment bloc, lifting the body of a lifeless child and that of a woman wrapped in a white shroud.
The number killed is expected to rise given the severity of wounds caused by the bombing and as the inhabitants of Sana’a continue to dig through the rubble with their bare hands.
Shortages of medicines and medical supplies resulting from the US-backed blockade of Yemen also hinder adequate treatment of the wounded.
Masirah quoted the health ministry as saying eight civilians, including four children, had been killed and 52 wounded, including two Russian women working in the health sector.
Saudi bombs and missiles fell on Sana’a’s densely populated residential neighborhoods of Rabat and Rakas.
Afrah Nasser, a Yemeni journalist, said her family’s home in Sana’a was near where one air strike hit. She accused the Saudi-UAE alliance of deliberately targeting civilians.
“I know the street. There are no military targets there. There is no excuse from the Saudi-led coalition – it was a deliberate and systematic bombardment attacking civilians,” Nasser told Al Jazeera.
Nasser Arrabyee, another Yemeni journalist, said the number of casualties was expected to rise.
“Medical sources are saying that they have received a lot of victims – injured and dead – which means the number will be even higher than just six,” he told Al Jazeera from Sanaa.
“Residential areas in the middle of Sanaa, in the most crowded areas, were randomly bombed and many houses were reduced to the ground.”
Calls for retaliation
On Tuesday, San’aa government claimed responsibility for twin drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s main East-West oil pipeline, saying they were a response to “crimes” committed by Riyadh during the bloody air war it has led in Yemen since March 2015.
The Saudi pipeline, which can carry five million barrels of crude per day, provides a strategic alternative route for Saudi exports if the shipping lane from the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz is closed.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the vital conduit for global oil supplies in the case of a military confrontation with the United States.
The Saudi cabinet called on Wednesday for “confronting terrorist entities which carry out such sabotage acts, including the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen”.
Key ally the United Arab Emirates (UAE) echoed the call.
“We will retaliate and we will retaliate hard when we see Houthis hitting civilian targets like what happened in Saudi Arabia,” the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said on Wednesday.