Over 130 civilians die in air strike on wedding in Yemen

Wedding party in Yemen hit with air strike, killing at least 130 people and injuring dozens of others, with Saudi-led coalition denying involvement in incident

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Boy walks past soldiers belonging to Saudi-led coalition patrolling street in Yemen's southern port city of Aden, September 26, 2015

Updated Sep 29, 2015

Local officials and residents reported the death of at least 130 people in a wedding party on Monday. The ceremony was targeted by air strikes that local residents and Iranian backed Houthi rebels say belong to the Saudi-led coalition.

Monday’s air strike came after the Saudi-led coalition bombarded houses in a village in northern part of Yemen on Sunday, killing at least 30 people, most of whom have been reported as being civilians.

Coalition spokesman Brigadier-General Ahmed al-Asseri told Reuters, "There have been no air operations by the coalition in that area for three days. This is totally false news."

"The coalition knows its responsibility and will always acknowledge a mistake if we make it. Take into consideration the chaotic situation in Yemen, with several armed elements and forces active around the country. Also, people sometimes cannot distinguish between canon, mortar and Katyusha [missiles]."

It is not the case that "every explosion that happens in Yemen" is caused by the coalition, he added.

According to a local witness the air strike targeted two tents in the village of Al Wahijah, close to the Red Sea port of Al Mokha,where a wedding ceremony of a local man associated with the Houthi rebels was taking place.

Rupert Colville, the UN human rights office spokesman in Geneva, said there was a team on the ground working to verify details of the wedding party tragedy.

"The [Hadi-led] government in exile seemed to have acknowledged it and said it was a mistake ... I don't think we have much doubt that this incident took place and it is a grave incident," Colville told a news conference.

The Houthi rebels captured Al Wahijah village situated in Taiz province in March and advanced on the southern port city of Aden, where President Hadi was based before he was forced to go on exile.  

War-torn Yemen has been suffering from clashes since March, when the Houthis seized the country's capital Sanaa and advanced towards Aden, forcing Hadi and his government to flee to Saudi Arabia.

The six-month-long war in the country has triggered an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The UN declared the situation in Yemen to be a level-three humanitarian emergency, the highest on its scale, after about 80 percent of the country’s population fell into dire need of humanitarian aid.

Twenty million people in the country are in need of aid, 13 million are facing food shortages and 9.4 million are having difficulties accessing drinking water.

The United Nations reported nearly 4,900 people, including more than 2,100 civilians, have been killed in fighting and air strikes since March 26.

TRTWorld and agencies