More than 140 people were killed and more than 525 injured Saturday when airstrikes hit a funeral ceremony in Yemen, a United Nations official said, with Huthi rebels blaming the attack on the Saudi-led coalition.
The UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said aid workers were “shocked and outraged” by the attacks that hit a community hall in the capital Sanaa where mourners had gathered.
“Initial reports from health officials in Sanaa indicate that over 140 people were killed and over 525 injured,” he said in a statement.
The UN aid official called for an immediate investigation and said the international community must exert pressure to ensure civilians are protected.
“This violence against civilians in Yemen must stop immediately,” said McGoldrick.
One of the Arab world’s poorest countries, Yemen slid deeper into chaos when the Saudi-led coalition launched its air war in March 2015 to push back Huthi rebels and their allies who still hold the capital.
Saturday’s strike was one of the deadliest attacks since the bombing campaign began in support of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
In a statement to AFP, the Saudi-led coalition said it had no operations at the location and “other causes” for the incident must be considered.
The coalition “has in the past avoided such gatherings and (they) have never been a subject of targeting,” it said.
More than 6,700 people — most of them civilians — have been killed in Yemen since the coalition intervened, according to the United Nations.