CAIRO (AP) — The United Nations has condemned an airstrike on a busy market that killed at least 17 people earlier this week in northern Yemen, a region which has been under control of Yemen’s Iran-backed rebels known as Houthis.
The office of the U.N. human rights coordinator in Yemen did not say who was behind the attack, but a Saudi-led coalition has been waging war against the Houthis since 2015, trying to restore the internationally recognized government to power. Thousands of Yemeni civilians have died in airstrikes.
The U.N. statement said that along with the 17 killed, including 12 Ethiopian migrants who had reached Yemen in search of a better life, another 12 civilians were wounded in the strike on the Al-Raqw market in the northern province of Saada on Tuesday.
It was the third time in a month that the market had been targeted, the U.N. added, saying the number of killed and wounded in the three attacks has reached 89. The local Huthi rebel authorities heavily restrict access for journalists and rights groups to the region of Saada, which has seen some of the war’s worst fighting.
The attacks on the market are deeply troubling, said the Yemen U.N humanitarian coordinator, Lise Grande. “Every attack of this kind is a gross violation. The parties responsible for this, and other atrocities, must be held accountable.”
Yemen’s conflict erupted in 2014, when the Houthis overran the capital, Sanaa, and much of the north, pushing out Yemen’s internationally recognized government and ushering in a civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people. The fighting has also left millions suffering from food and medical shortages and pushed the country to the brink of famine.
Huthi spokesman Yehia Sarea tweeted later on Wednesday that “these crimes” by the the Saudi-led coalition “will not go by unnoticed” and pledged that the victims would be avenged. He put the death toll at least 20. The two different tolls could not immediately be reconciled.
Sarea also posted images on social media purporting to show the casualties from the airstrike.
Reporting by Noha Elhennawy
Image: A former al-Qaeda commander, Harith al-Ezzi, walks through streets destroyed in fighting in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz in this Feb. 4, 2018, photo (AP Photo)