SANAA (Reuters) - The United Nations has condemned airstrikes by an Arab coalition that killed 26 people in Western Yemen on Wednesday and said attacks on civilian facilities in the Arab World’s poorest country have increased since July.
Warplanes of the Saudi-led alliance launched missiles at a residential neighbourhood in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Wednesday where Houthi leaders were staying, a resident and medics in the Houthi-controlled area told Reuters.
The raid hit a house in a neighbourhood populated by workers.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement condemning the attack, said dozens of people, including children and women, had been killed and injured.
Wednesday’s raid, which the Arab alliance said it was investigating reports on, was the latest in a series of strikes that have hit schools, hospitals, markets and private homes.
In August at least 41 attacks hit civilian facilities and killed 180 civilians, a 40 percent increase in casualties since July, said a U.N. human rights spokeswoman.
“We note with deep concern the sharp increase in civilian casualties since the suspension of peace talks,” said Cecile Pouilly in a statement. “We reiterate our call for the setting up of an international and independent investigative body.”
The coalition, which began operations in Yemen in March last year to try to reverse the rise to power of the Iran-allied Houthi group, has repeatedly said it does not target civilians.
In a statement, the coalition said it was aware of reports alleging civilian casualties in Hodeidah city.
“As with any allegation we receive, the information about the incident will be reviewed, and once it is found supporting the allegation based on credible evidence we will then move to a next step of investigations,” the statement said.
The deputy governor of Hodeidah province, Hashim Azazi said late on Wednesday rescue workers were still pulling victims out of the rubble.
A Houthi leader, Ali al-Amad, said in a Tweet he had survived a raid on the presidential palace.
U.N.-sponsored talks to try to end the fighting that has killed more than 10,000 people collapsed in failure last month and the Houthi movement and allied forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh resumed shelling into neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Nearly half of Yemen’s 22 provinces are on the verge of famine, according to the U.N. World Food Programme, as a result of the war that has drawn in regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari, William Maclean Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay; Writing by Tom Finn; Editing by Richard Balmforth
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