Over 140 dead, 525 injured as Saudi strike hits funeral ceremony in Yemen

SANAA: More than 140 people were killed and more than 525 wounded Saturday when air strikes hit a funeral ceremony in Yemen, a United Nations official said, with Houthi rebels blaming the attack on the Saudi-led coalition.

A man takes photos of the damage caused by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Sanaa. ─ AP
A man takes photos of the damage caused by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Sanaa. ─ AP
Senior health ministry official Nasser al-Argaly warned that the toll from the air strike that targeted a building where mourners had gathered in southern Sanaa could rise further.

Emergency workers pulled out at least 20 charred remains and body parts from the gutted building while others scoured the wreckage in search for survivors, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

The rebel-controlled news site sabanews.net said that coalition planes hit a building in southern Sanaa where hundreds had gathered to mourn the death of the father of a prominent local official.

The Houthis did not say if the official ─ rebel interior minister Jalal al-Rowaishan ─ was present in the building at the time of the attack which they dubbed a “massacre” nor did they indicate if other senior figures were attending the funeral.

Rebel Almasirah television said Sanaa mayor Abdel Qader Hilal was among those killed.

People had come from all over Sanaa to attend the funeral, said Mulatif al-Mojani, who witnessed the air strikes.

“A plane fired a missile and minutes later another plane pounded the building,” he told AFP.

Another witness, who declined to give his name, described the attack as “war crime”.

“This was a funeral for one man in Sanaa and now it has turned into a funeral for tens of Yemenis,” he said.

A security source, quoted by the rebel website, said a fire tore through the building after the strikes.

Yemen’s powerful ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key ally of the Houthi movement, called for an escalation of attacks against Saudi Arabia on Sunday.