Yemen coalition bombs mosque where families were praying

Yemeni authorities say warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition dropped a missile on a Sunni mosque and a religious school in the capital, Sanaa, Friday, killing and injuring dozens of civilians.

Among those killed in the raid were children, according to the national minister of security. Another 10 people were killed in the airstrikes near the home of a lawmaker, Waqas al-Rawdhi, the minister said.

The names of those killed are not yet known, but news reports said they were between the ages of 6 and 16.

Yemeni officials say the attack came from the Saudi-led coalition, which is fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in a civil war that has left more than 2,000 people dead since March 2015. The United Nations says 8,750 people have been killed in the conflict.

The Yemeni government and Saudi Arabia accuse the Houthis of hiding in mosques and schools as part of a cover for smuggling arms. This attack took place near al-Hurra mosque in Bait al-Shahid neighborhood, the minister said.

“There was a bombing of the mosque that was used as shelter for the Houthi militias,” he said. “The coalition dropped two missiles that targeted the mosque. This was a deliberate targeting of the public. We condemn the coalition for this despicable attack.”

Local residents told the Associated Press that the missiles hit the front courtyard of the mosque, and that children were playing inside the buildings at the time.

Civilians and civil society groups say that the Saudi-led coalition doesn’t take the risk of civilian casualties into account when attacking a suspected militant hideout or a religious school.

A lack of pressure on the coalition to pinpoint the source of the airstrikes and to correct or clarify mistakes could have resulted in the attack on the mosque and religious school, along with some other recent strikes, according to human rights groups.

The Saudi coalition – which is participating in the war on behalf of the internationally recognized government of Yemen – has been closely watched by international media for any indications of human rights violations by the coalition in the war.

Human Rights Watch said last year that it had documented 33 separate Saudi-led coalition attacks on schools and other civilian sites in Yemen that caused deaths or injuries.

Yemen’s war, which began in March 2015 when the Houthis overran Sanaa, has drawn in other regional powers, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia’s neighbor to the north.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE, both rivals of Iran in the region, accuse the Houthis of receiving support from the Islamic Republic and working in cooperation with that country to launch attacks. The Houthis deny the allegations.

The Houthis have driven the internationally recognized government from most of the country and forced the U.N.-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to southern Saudi Arabia. Hadi remains there.

Another bomb went off in Sanaa on Friday, wounding two workers at a factory, but the explosion did not cause any deaths or injuries, authorities said.

Follow Jennifer Steinhauer on Twitter at @jenningssteinhauer.

Leave a Comment