Saudi Airstrikes Kill atleast 40 on north Yemen Refugee Camp

Written by  Published by:Pakistan Views Tuesday, 31 March 2015 10:49

At least 40 people have been killed in an attack on a camp for internally displaced people in north Yemen, as a Saudi-led coalition continued to strike Houthi targets around the country for a fifth day.

Several sources said an air strike on Monday struck the Al-Mazraq camp in the northwestern province of Hajjah, close to the Saudi border, but Yemen's foreign minister, Riyadh Yasin, insisted it was caused by Houthi artillery fire.

Pablo Marco, the manager of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) programme in the Middle East said: "It was an air strike," adding that dozens of Yemenis were injured.

"People in Al-Mazraq camp have been living in very harsh conditions since 2009, and now they have suffered the consequences of an airstrike." 

Houthi-run al-Masirah TV showed blurred footage from the aftermath of the attack purporting to show the bodies of the victims.

Whilst UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch confirmed the attack, he told Al Jazeera it was unclear what caused the deaths.

"We are not able to confirm how the attack happened, but remain concerned for the safety and security of the displaced," Baloch said.

Meanwhile, witnesses told the AP news agency that while the camp used to house people displaced by an earlier conflict that ended five years ago, it was now occupied by Houthi forces and that most of those killed were fighters.

When asked about the allegations, Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri, a spokesman for the Arab coalition, said the kingdom was seeking clarification on the incident.

"It could have been that the fighter jets replied to fire, and we cannot confirm that it was a refugee camp," Asiri said.

"We will ask the Yemeni official agencies to confirm that," he told reporters.

It was not immediately possible to resolve the conflicting accounts.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, who has reported extensively from Yemen, said thousands of displaced Yemenis had been living at camps such as Al-Mazraq since 2004, after being driven from their homes by an offensive launched by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against the Houthis.

Elsewhere, Saudi-led air strikes continued to target Houthi-held areas on Monday night - the sixth successive night of coalition's aerial campaign. Video footage showed large explosions as air strikes hit at an ammunition depot in Sanaa.

Air strikes also targeted the camp of the 131 Infantry Brigade in Saada and Houthi positions in the cities of Taiz and Hudaydah.

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