UN’s Ban calls for probe into Saudi-led Yemen market strike

UN Secretary General demands investigation into Saudi-led Yemen market air strike which reportedly killed dozens of civilians

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

People inspect damage at a house after it was destroyed by a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen's capital Sanaa, February 25, 2016.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday demanded an investigation into an air strike on a market in Yemen that reportedly killed dozens of civilians.

The situation in Hajja province in northern Yemen is not clear, but local sources blame the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels for carrying out Tuesday's strike.

Initial reports from health officials said the bulk of the more than 40 dead were civilians, but a tribal chief later told AFP that 33 of those killed were Houthi "fighters."

"The secretary general condemns the air strikes that hit al Khamis market in Mastaba district in the Hajjah province of Yemen yesterday," said Ban's office.

"This incident is one of the deadliest -- reportedly killing and wounding scores of civilians, including women and children -- since the start of the conflict," he complained.

"This is the second major incident of this kind in just over two weeks," he added, stressing that attacks on civilian areas like markets are a breach of international law.

Human rights groups have repeatedly complained that air strikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition -- with technical and logistical support from the United States and Britain -- hit Yemeni civilian targets.