Update: Coalition air strikes kill 136 civilians in Yemen, says UN

Update 2.26pm: The UN human rights office says has verified the killings of 136 Yemeni civilians and other non-combatants in air strikes carried out over 11 days this month by the Saudi-led military coalition batting Yemen's Shiite rebels.

Rupert Colville, of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said UN officials are "deeply concerned" about a surge in civilian casualties from air strikes following the killing in early December of Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Mr Saleh was killed by the rebels, known as Houthis, after apparently switching alliances and turning against his former allies.

Mr Colville said the killings occurred between December 6 and 16 in four northern provinces.

The air strikes, which also injured 87 people, hit Yemen's rebel-run TV channel, a hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, and a wedding party - a strike that killed one woman and nine children, the rights office said.

Seven strikes on a police compound in Sanaa on December 13 killed at least 43 people when the compound's prison grounds were hit, the office said.

People inspect the rubble of a Houthi-held detention center destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen on December 13. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

All those victims were reportedly detainees loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is supported by the coalition.

"I think one can assume that that was a mistake," Mr Colville said. "They weren't intending to kill prisoners from their own side."

After originally indicating the death toll was 115, Mr Colville later said it had increased to 136 to include a strike on Friday on a farmhouse in Hodeida that left 20 people dead, including 14 children.

Hundreds of world figures urged the leaders of the US, France and Britain on Tuesday to stop "stoking the flames of war" in impoverished Yemen.

The statement, signed by 355 high-profile figures, marked the 1,000th day of the war, which has turned the poorest Arab country into the world's largest humanitarian crisis.

The signatories included eight Nobel peace laureates, religious leaders, Western lawmakers and rights defenders, as well as US congresswomen Barbara Lee and Pramila Jayapal and congressman Ro Khanna, all Democrats.

"To prevent further catastrophe and famine, Yemen needs an immediate ceasefire; an end to all blockages on access for food, fuel and medical supplies; and investment in a new, inclusive peace process," the statement read.

It appealed to President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron.

"If you don't want the burden of the lives of thousands more Yemeni children on your hands, then the time to act is now. Yemen can't wait any longer," it said.

The appeal also called on the UN Security Council to press Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates, the main pillars of the coalition, to end the war in Yemen. The US-backed coalition is seeking to restore Yemen's internationally recognised government to power.

Over the past three years, more than 10,000 people have been killed and three million displaced amid the coalition's air campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthis and their allies.

Earlier: Saudi royal palace targeted in missile attack as confirmed 115 Yemeni civilians killed in air strikes

The UN human rights office says it has verified the killings of 115 Yemeni civilians and other non-combatants in air strikes carried out over 11 days by the Saudi-led military coalition batting Yemen’s Shiite rebels.

The news comes as reports emerged this morning that a ballistic missile targeted at the kingdom’s royal palace has been shot down by the Saudi-led coalition according to the Reuters news agency

UN Human Rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said UN officials are "deeply concerned" about a surge in civilian casualties from air strikes after the killing earlier this month of Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Mr Saleh was killed by the rebels, known as Houthis, after apparently switching sides and turning against his former allies.

Mr Colville told reporters the killings occurred in four northern areas from December 6 to 16, including air strikes on Yemen’s rebel-run TV channel, a hospital in the port city of Hodeida and a series targeting a prison in Sanaa that killed 43.

Meanwhile, a ballistic missile targeted at the kingdom’s royal palace has been shot down by the Saudi-led coalition accoridng to the Reuters news agency

Citing local media the agency say there were no immediate reports of injuries.

There has been no official statement from the Saudi government.

- Digital desk, Reuters and AP


KEYWORDS: Yemen

 

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