By Mohammed Ghobari
ADEN (Reuters) – An attack on a market killed at least 10 civilians including children in Yemen’s northern Saada province on Monday, a medical source and the warring parties who blamed each other said.
The manager of the local Al Jomhouri hospital said 13 people were killed and 23 injured in air strikes in Qatabir district by a Saudi-led coalition battling the Iran-aligned Houthi group in Yemen. Al Masirah TV said the death toll had risen to 14.
The Saudi-backed Yemeni government’s information minister, Moammar al-Eryani, said in a Twitter post that the Houthis had fired Katyusha rockets on the market, killing 10 civilians and injuring 20.
“The attack carried out by the Houthis on Al Thabet market is a terrorist act to spite Yemenis and the tribes of Al Thabet,” the coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said in a statement sent to Reuters, adding that the tribes were against the group. He did not provide further details.
Pictures taken by a Reuters photographer showed more than nine bodies, some of them torn apart, lined up on a nylon sheet near the morgue.
“There are two children among the martyrs and 11 children among those injured,” hospital manager Saleh Qorban told Reuters. Masirah later said four children were killed.
Saudi Arabia is leading the Western-backed Sunni Muslim alliance that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government, which was ousted from power in the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.
Al Masirah, citing a Houthi military spokesman, said the group launched drone attacks on a Saudi air base in the south of the kingdom on Monday. There was no immediate confirmation from the alliance.
The movement has stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi cities, and the coalition has responded with air strikes on Houthi targets, mostly around Sanaa.
In August 2018, coalition air strikes killed dozens of people, including children traveling on a bus through a market in Saada. The alliance initially said it had targeted missile launchers but later admitted that the attack was unjustified.
Human rights groups have criticized Western countries that provide arms and intelligence to the coalition over air strikes that have killed civilians at hospitals, schools and markets. The coalition says it does not intentionally target civilians.
The four-year-old war, that has killed tens of thousands and pushed the long-impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation to the brink of famine, has long been in a military stalemate.
The Houthis, who say their revolution is against corruption, control Sanaa and most of the main urban centres. The government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi holds the southern port of Aden.
The violence could complicate efforts to implement a U.N.- sponsored troop withdrawal agreement in the main port city of Hodeidah that is meant to pave the way for peace talks to end the conflict, which is largely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
(Reporting by Reuters team in Yemen, Marwa Rashad in Riyadh, Samar Ahmed in Cairo and Asma Alsharif in Dubai; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by William Maclean)