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Saudis Deny Role in Attacks That Killed Civilians in Yemeni Port

The Red Cross on Friday reported a near doubling of the death toll from attacks on a rebel-held Yemeni seaport under siege by a Saudi-led coalition, describing the killings and destruction as a horrific disregard of international law.

As recriminations over Thursday’s attacks escalated, the Saudis and their military partners in the Yemen conflict denied any responsibility and blamed their enemies, the Houthis, the Yemeni insurgent group that controls the seaport, Al Hudaydah.

At least 55 civilians were killed and 170 were wounded by bombings that struck densely crowded areas of the seaport, including a fish market and areas around Al Thawra Hospital, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement from its Yemen delegation. It did not identify who was responsible.

“The scenes coming from Hudaydah are horrific,” the statement said. “The disregard of international humanitarian law in Yemen cannot be tolerated.”

While the statement did not say who was behind the attacks, it said that “this lack of respect for civilian life and civilian property is reprehensible.”

Medics and witnesses in Al Hudaydah said Thursday that at least 30 people had been killed, and that missiles fired by warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition had caused the deaths and destruction. International aid groups deplored the attacks on the seaport, the main conduit for much of the emergency assistance sent to millions of destitute Yemenis.

The Saudi spokesman for the Arab coalition forces that have been threatening to seize Al Hudaydah said Friday that the coalition had not carried out any operations there. The spokesman, Col. Turki al-Maliki, told the pro-Saudi Al-Arabiya television news channel that “the Houthi militia are behind the killing of civilians in Hudaydah on Thursday.”

At a separate news conference in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, on Friday, Colonel Maliki said that the coalition had targeted positions on Wednesday and Thursday that were more than one mile away.

Saudi Arabia has come under growing international pressure over civilian deaths and other deprivations from its protracted war against the Houthis in Yemen, which the United Nations has said has created the world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster.NY Times

 

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