Yemen, Saudi coalition raid hits a market killing 25 civilians

Local witnesses speak of more than 50 injured. Riyadh’s bombs hit a crowded market. Earlier in the area, Houthi militia rebels had celebrated two years of the conquest of Sana'a. The UN says half of the 22 provinces of the country is at risk famine.


Sana'a (AsiaNews / Agencies) – More civilians have become casualties in Yemen, following a Saudi-led Arab coalition air raid that hit a popular district of the western port city of Hodeida. The attack took place yesterday evening and caused the deaths of 25 innocent people. The area has long been under the control of the Shiite Houthi rebels, the main target of the raid.

Local sources said that the bombings targeted the Souq al-Hounod district. The attack came a few hours after festivities organized in the city by rebel militias, to celebrate the second anniversary of the conquest of Sana'a, Yemen's capital.

According to eyewitnesses the Saudi jets hit a Hawak district market several times, which was crowded with people at the time of the raid. The bombs wounded at least 50 people.

Rescuers and volunteers today are still engaged in the recovery of victims and in the search for survivors, trapped under the rubble of buildings that collapsed because of the bombs.

In a message posted on Twitter Houthis spokesman, Ali al-Ahmad, confirmed he had escaped the Saudi raid, whose primary target was the presidential palace in Hodeida.

"The scene [of the attack] was terrible," said one resident, requesting anonymity for fear of retaliation. Yesterday's attacks are only the latest in a long series that have been hit non-military targets, but schools, hospitals, markets and private homes. Added to this is the famine alarm launched by the World Food Programme: according to the UN agency at least half of the 22 provinces that comprise Yemen could soon go hungry.

Since January 2015, Yemen has been the scene of a bloody civil war pitting the country’s Sunni leadership, backed by Saudi Arabia, against Shia Houthi rebels, close to Iran.

In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes against the rebels in an attempt to free the capital For Saudi Arabia, the Houthis, who are allied to forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, are militarily supported by Iran, a charge the latter angrily rejects.

There has been a high body count among the civilian population in the bombings, which have been condemned by the United Nations. About  10 thousand people, including children. At least 2.5 million people are displaced by conflict.

Groups linked to al Qaeda and jihadist militias linked to the Islamic State group are active in the country, which adds to the spiral of violence and terror.

Since the beginning of the month the Saudi led coalition - often "accused errors" in the military operations, which eventually also involve civilians - have stepped up air raids on rebel-held areas, following the suspension [failure] of peace talks. The bombings of recent days have attracted the condemnation of the international community; in response, the Saudis have announced the opening of an investigation.