by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
SANAA, Yemen — On Thursday, February 16th, witnesses and medics reported that at least eight women and a child lost their lives after an overnight air strike directed by the Saudi-led coalition struck a funeral reception near the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. 10 other women and children were also reportedly wounded in the attack, which struck near the funeral’s women’s reception area.
The attack took place in a village where mourners had gathered to pay their condolences after the death of a “well-known local woman.” Village residents stated that they ran from their houses after hearing the sound of planes. They stated, however, that bombs hit the houses directly afterwards, which led to the roofs collapsing. Villagers indicated that “[b]lood was everywhere[.]” Pictures released from the scene portrayed villagers searching through the rubble of a destroyed house, and a “man kneeling in the dust with the corpse of an elderly women in his arms.” At the time of the attack, a villager, who lost his wife in the raid, had been receiving condolences after the death of his brother. Defining the attack as “barbaric,” he stated that he saw four women die immediately.
Injured children were taken to a nearby hospital in Sanaa for treatment. One of the children is suffering from a “horribly burned” face, and a “body pitted with shrapnel” from flying debris. Doctors were required to tie her hands to her hospital bed to prevent her from scratching her wounds.
Houthi supporters alleged that the attack was a “double tap strike,” which entails an initial bomb followed by the detonation of a second bomb. Such strikes are targeted towards killing and injuring individuals who rush to the aid of those wounded in the first attack.
The parliament of Yemen “strongly condemned” the attack by characterizing it as a “horrific, brutal Saudi war crime[.]” It indicated that the coalition “lacks all religious and humanitarian principles[,]” and called upon the United Nations to urgently prosecute Saudi Arabians in the International Criminal Court to protect the citizens of Yemen against war crimes.
The United Nations’ Special Envoy to Yemen, Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, stated that attacks directed towards civilians are “unjustifiable.” The United Nations’ Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, stated that he was “saddened and appalled” by the attack.
The Saudi-led coalition has long been accused of targeting funerals, hospitals, weddings and schools in Yemen. Although the coalition has repeatedly denied deliberately attacking civilians, in October, it accepted responsibility for an air strike on a funeral which led to the deaths of 140 people. At the time, it had blamed the deaths on “incorrect information.”
For more information, please see:
Daily Mail—Bloodied, bandaged and bodies pitted with shrapnel: Baby girls lie in hospital beds opposite each other after air strike on mourners at a WAKE in Yemen kills seven women and a child—18 February 2017