Air strikes on Yemen ‘kill 31 civilians’ after Saudi jet crash

Houthi movement claims Saudi-led coalition’s attacks are retaliation for downing of aircraft

Thirty-one people have been killed in airstrikes on Yemen in apparent retaliation for the shooting down of a Saudi Tornado aircraft. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AFP via Getty Images

Thirty-one people have been killed in airstrikes on Yemen in apparent retaliation for the shooting down of a Saudi Tornado aircraft. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AFP via Getty Images

 

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement accused the Saudi-led coalition of carrying out retaliatory air strikes on Saturday that killed at least 30 people including civilians, in the latest flare-up of a five-year war.

The United Nations office in Yemen said preliminary field reports indicated that “as many as 31 civilians were killed and 12 others injured in strikes that hit Al-Hayjah area” in Al-Jawf province.

The health ministry in Houthi-controlled Al-Jawf province said women and children were among those killed, Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV reported.

It followed a Houthi claim to have downed a coalition Tornado warplane in the area on Friday.

But the Saudi-led coalition’s spokesman said only a Tornado jet had crashed in Al-Jawf, Saudi state news agency (SPA) reported on Saturday. He later said rescue operations had been launched and that the possibility of “collateral damages” has been reported, without providing more details.

The spokesman said the crew of two officers ejected from the plane before it crashed but the Houthis opened fire at them.

The office of the UN resident coordinator in Yemen said humanitarian partners have deployed rapid response teams for the victims, many of whom were being transferred to hospitals in Al-Jawf governorate and Sanaa for treatment.

The Saudi-led Sunni Muslim coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognised government from power in the capital, Sanaa, in 2014.

The conflict is widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its regional foe Iran. – Reuters