01/11/2017, 09.06

Yemen, Saudi airstrike close to school: five civilians dead, two children

The attack took place in the northern district of Nihm, under the control of the Houthi rebels. Contrasting claims for the death toll: Local sources speak of eight deaths and 15 serious injuries. No comment from Riyadh on the incident. In Yemen in 1600 schools out of use because of the war, education denied to two million children.


Sana'a (AsiaNews / Agencies) - An airstrike launched by the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen has killed five people near a primary school in the north of the country. The attack took place yesterday in the Nihm district, under the control of the Houthi rebels; hospital sources also report that the bombing caused the death of two children.

At first the agency Saba, close to the Shiite movement, had set the death toll of eight, and had reported that the school "had been razed to the ground".

The Saudi-led coalition has so far refused to comment on the incident. In the past, the leaders have stated their intention is not to hit civilian targets. However, local activists and international organizations, including the United Nations, have repeatedly denounced raids against houses, schools, hospitals that have resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries.

The inhabitants of the city of Saba and rescuers confirmed the damage to the elementary school in al-Falah, about 53 km north-west of Sana'a, capital of Yemen, under Houthi control. The death toll is unclear: eight dead and 15 seriously wounded according rebel sources, which do not exclude other victims hidden under the rubble. Sana’a instead reports five deaths, including two children.

The Saudi coalition bombs hit a market, which is located near the school.

UN experts say that one of the first victims of the war in Yemen is the right to education for children. To date 1,600 schools are out of order because damaged, occupied by internally displaced by the conflict or combatants. Up to two million children are denied the opportunity to attend schools.

In August, a Saudi coalition raid hit a Koranic school in the northern province of Saada, killing 10 children. Riyadh later had denied any involvement in the incident.

Since January 2015, Yemen has been the scene of a bloody civil war opposing the country’s Sunni elites led by former President Hadi, backed by Riyadh, and Shia Houthi rebels, who are close to Iran.

In March 2015, a Saudi-led Arab coalition began attacking the  rebels, sparking criticism from the United Nations over heavy casualties, including many children.

So far, some 10,000 people, including more than 3,700 civilians, have been killed, and at least 2.5 million have been displaced.

For Saudi Arabia, the Houthis, allied to forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, are supported militarily by Iran, a charge that Tehran rejects.

Extremist groups linked to al Qaeda and jihadist militias linked to Islamic State are active in the country, a fact that has helped escalate violence and terror.

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