Saudi attack hits Yemen hospital

Dubai, October 27

A hospital in north Yemen run by medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres was bombed in a Saudi-led air strike, wrecking the facility and lightly wounding two staff members, the group said today.

A Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March to try to restore its government after its toppling by Iran-allied Houthi forces, but a mounting civilian death toll has alarmed human rights groups.

“Our hospital in the Heedan district of Saada governorate was hit several times. Fortunately, the first hit damaged the operations theatre while it was empty and the staff were busy with people in the emergency room. They just had time to run off as another missile hit the maternity ward,” MSF country director Hassan Boucenine told Reuters by telephone from Yemen.

“It could be a mistake, but the fact of the matter is it’s a war crime. There’s no reason to target a hospital. We provided the coalition with all of our GPS coordinates about two weeks ago,” he said.

The air raid occurred in north Yemen’s Saada province, a region controlled by Houthi forces. The state news agency Saba, run by the Houthis, said other air strikes hit a nearby girls school and damaged several civilian homes. It was not immediately possible to confirm that report, and a coalition spokesman was not immediately available for comment. Seven months of air strikes in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and other US-allied Gulf Arab countries have yet to loosen the Houthis’ grip on the capital Sanaa and make headway towards restoring the now Saudi-based Yemeni government to power.

The United States and Britain are supporting the coalition with intelligence and both are long-time arms suppliers to their Gulf Arab allies. Human rights groups have voiced concern at the mounting death toll from aerial bombing and ground fighting raging across Yemen. Amnesty International has recommended an arms embargo on coalition states, citing repeated bombing of Yemeni civilians.

In a separate bombing yesterday, a coalition air strike killed Haradh Hospital director Yasser Wathab and two people he was travelling with in a car in the northwestern province of Hajja.