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Yemeni hospital attack sees 11 dead

August 16, 2016

An Arab coalition air raid on a Yemeni hospital has killed 11 and injured 19. It comes less than 48 hours after Doctors Without Borders said the coalition had killed 10 children in strikes on a Koranic school in Saada.

Image: Reuters/Stringer

The blast "partially destroyed" the hospital at Abs, in the rebel-held province of Hajja.

Nine people were killed in the explosion - the fourth attack on an MSF facility in less than a year - including one MSF staff member, while two more patients died while being transferred to another clinic, MSF said.

At the time of the airstrike, MSF said there were 23 patients in the surgery ward, 25 in the maternity ward, 13 newborns and 12 patients in the pediatric ward. The group was still trying to clarify how many patients were in the emergency room.

Residents in Abs said coalition jets, which have been striking rebel military targets in the town for several days, hit the hospital and caused casualties. Abs is adjacent to the town of Harad, on the border with Saudi Arabia, and from where rebels have repeatedly shelled areas on the kingdom's side of the frontier, causing both civilian and military deaths.

Yemen hospital struck in Arab coalition raid

The hospital is near the Houthi rebel stronghold of Saada, where teams were still attending to the wounded.

"Once again, a fully functional hospital full of patients and MSF national and international staff members was bombed in a war that has shown no respect for medical facilities or patients," Teresa Sancristoval, of MSF's Emergency Unit in Yemen, said in a statement. Sancristoval said that nothing "seems to be done to make parties involved in the conflict in Yemen respect medical staff and patients.

"It's a rural hospital which was full when the raid occurred, although it is difficult to estimate how many," she said.

The coalition has been battling Iran-backed rebels since March 2015 in support of Yemen's government. On Monday, it promised to investigate another attack that MSF said had killed 10 children over the weekend at a school in the rebel-held northern province of Saada.

The GPS coordinates of the hospital "were repeatedly shared with all parties to the conflict, including the Saudi-led coalition, and its location was well-known," the statement added.

Earlier this month, the coalition acknowledged "shortcomings" in two out of eight cases it has investigated of UN-condemned air strikes on civilian targets in Yemen.

In Washington, the State Department said it was "deeply concerned by a reported airstrike" and called on "all parties to cease hostilities immediately," but did not specifically point to the Saudi-led coalition.

London-based watchdog Amnesty International described the bombardment as "a deplorable act that... appears to be the latest in a string of unlawful attacks targeting hospitals, highlighting an alarming pattern of disregard for civilian life."

The UN says that more than 6,400 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Yemen since last March. UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the UN is trying to gather details on Monday's attack.

The group said in May that at least 100 staff members, patients and caretakers were killed, and another 130 were wounded, in aerial bombing and shelling attacks on more than 80 MSF-supported and run health structures in 2015 and early 2016.

Yemen - Hope for peace?

jbh/kl (AP, AFP)