At least 51 killed in airstrikes on Yemen wedding party


Sana’a (dpa) – At least 51 civilians are dead – including three brides and two grooms – in two airstrikes on a wedding party in a rebel-held town in Yemen, a health official said Thursday.

Health Ministry spokesman Tamim al-Shami said the attacks were carried out on Wednesday by the Saudi-led military coalition seeking to restore the country’s internationally recognized government.

The ministry is controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who overran much of the country a year ago.

The missiles hit a pavilion hosting a wedding for three couples in the town of Sanban, around 100 kilometres south of the rebel-held capital Sana’a.

Thirty others, including children, were wounded in the raids, al-Shami told dpa.

Yemen’s official news agency SABA, run by the Houthis, said that the strikes were carried out by “aggressive Saudi aircraft”, leaving dozens dead and wounded.

However, spokesman for Yemen’s pro-government army, Samir al-Haj, blamed the bombing on the Houthi rebels.

The attack is the latest to have claimed civilian lives since Saudi Arabia and fellow Sunni partners started in March an air campaign in Yemen against the mostly Shiite rebels, who forced internationally recognized President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi out of the country.

Last month, 131 people were killed in a suspected-coalition airstrike at a wedding party in the Red Sea port of Mocha.

At the time, the alliance denied responsibility for the airstrikes, saying it does not target civilians.

More than 2,000 civilians have been killed in Yemen’s conflict, according to the United Nations.

In the southern city of Aden, which is the temporary capital of the Hadi government, gunmen killed a military commander, a security official said.

The gunmen on a motorbike shot dead Colonel Jamal al-Saqaf, the director of the Control and Inspection Department in Aden’s Fourth Military Zone, outside his house, the official added on condition of anonymity.

The assailants escaped.

Earlier in the day, unidentified gunmen shot dead judge Abbas Aqrabi also in Aden.

No-one has claimed responsibility for either attack.

On Tuesday, the government’s temporary headquarters and two bases of alliance troops in Aden were the targets of attacks.

The Islamic State extremist militia claimed those attacks, which left at least 15 people dead.

Last month, the Yemeni government returned to Aden from exile in Saudi Arabia, weeks after Hadi’s loyalists, backed by allied airstrikes, had driven the rebels out of the port city.

The latest attacks show that the Hadi administration has yet to re-establish full control of Aden.