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Saudi Arabia denies attack on hospital

Saudi Arabia has denied that coalition air strikes hit a hospital in Yemen run by the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières. The comments came after the attack was condemned by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The hospital, which was

hit late Monday,

is run by aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) with help from U.N. children's agency UNICEF and the World Health Organization. MSF said there were no casualties.

The Saudi mission to the United Nations said in a statement that coalition forces had been given the exact coordinates of the hospital which were placed "within the forbidden targets"

"Accordingly, this hospital could not have been targeted by the coalition forces," it added.

According to the Saudi mission, a thorough investigation was under way. It also expressed its "deep regret" that Ban had blamed the coalition "without waiting for full and accurate information about that regrettable incident."

Meanwhile, the UN chief renewed his call for an end to the fighting including the air campaign launched by Saudi Arabia in March.

A Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in Yemen's civil to try to restore the government after it was toppled by Iran-allied Houthi forces, however a mounting civilian death toll and dire humanitarian situation has alarmed human rights groups.

The United Nations is increasingly alarmed at the heavy toll on civilians from the Saudi air campaign that has led to a major humanitarian crisis. Nearly 5,000 people have been killed in the bombing campaign.

Yemen's UN ambassador Khaled Alyemany told reporters that the UN deputy envoy for Yemen was holding preparatory peace talks with the Huthis in Oman and would then travel to Riyadh to meet with the government.

Alyemany said he hoped formal talks will get under way in the first two weeks of November however no date has been set yet.

av/bw (AFP, Reuters)

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