YEMEN (OBSERVATORY) – The death toll from the aerial bombardment of a wedding in the province of Hajjah, 123 km northwest of Sanaa, has risen to 78, one of them dead and wounded, a medical source said Monday.
The head of the health office in Hajjah province told German news agency DPA that the death toll had risen to 21 dead and 57 injured, including 36 children.
He explained that some of the wounded in critical condition, pointing out that the search for victims has ended.
Eyewitnesses told AFP that the Arab coalition fighters launched two air raids on a wedding in the area of ”Alraqa” Directorate Bani Qais after a heavy flight lasted about an hour.
According to the sources, the flight continued after the bombing until this afternoon, which led to the delay in rescuing the victims, pointing out that the groom was seriously injured.
Most of the areas in Hajjah province are under the control of Houthi militants.
So far, Arab coalition forces have not issued any statement about the bombing.
For more than three years, Yemen has been witnessing fierce battles between government forces backed by Arab coalition forces and Houthi militants, causing heavy material and human losses, including civilians.
The Houthis, who control the region, blamed the raids on the Saudi-led coalition.
MSF said the raids were in the town of Beni Qais in Hajjah province and that 45 people were taken to a hospital in the province’s largest city, including 13 children.
A spokesman for the Saudi-led military alliance in Yemen did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.
In Tehran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasimi strongly condemned the raids, calling it “brutal.”
“Attacks on residential areas and civilian targets, as well as preventing international relief organizations from carrying out their activities, violate humanitarian principles and norms,” Qassimi said.
The rebel-held al-Masirah channel said 20 people were killed and 40 wounded in the raid.
The director of Hajja Hospital said that 30 children were among the injured in the raid, adding that three of the children had been amputated.
The rebel news agency Saba said that there were 88 dead and wounded, including women and children, and condemned the “new Saudi crime”.
This is not the first time that raids have been launched on a wedding in Yemen. A total of 131 civilians were killed on September 28, 2015, in raids targeting a wedding in the coastal city of Mukha in western Yemen.
In October 2016, 140 people were killed in a raid on a hall where a funeral was held.
Saudi Arabia, at the head of the military alliance, began its operations in Yemen in March 2015 in support of the internationally recognized authority and against the Shi’ite Houthis who took control of the capital and other areas.
In recent months, the Houthis have intensified their rocket attacks on Saudi Arabia, including an attack in which they fired seven rockets into the kingdom on March 26, the third anniversary of the coalition campaign.
Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of supporting the Houthis with weapons, which Tehran denies.
– Confrontations with the jihadists –
Separately, five soldiers from the internationally recognized Yemeni forces were killed and 19 wounded in violent confrontations with jihadis following a campaign in the southwestern city of Taiz on Monday following the killing of an ICRC staff member, medical sources said.
It was not clear if there were casualties among the jihadists.
The confrontations took place in the Jahmila neighborhood, which is under the control of the forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is recognized as part of a “campaign being carried out and targeting extremist groups” in the city, a police officer said.
Government forces control much of Taiz, while the Houthis control several areas around it.
“The governor of Taiz, appointed by the president backed by the Arab coalition, formed on Sunday a campaign by all the security and military units against the positions of extremist groups,” the police officer said earlier.
“The operation started Monday and violent clashes broke out,” he said, without being able to give a specific toll.
A Lebanese employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was shot dead by unknown assailants on Saturday in Taiz.
The conflict in Yemen since the Saudi intervention at the head of the military alliance has killed some 10,000 people in a humanitarian crisis that the United Nations is among the worst in the world now.