Death toll from Saudi-led coalition air strikes on Yemen’s capital rises to 82 — official

SANAA — The Saudi-led coalition air strikes on a funeral hall in Yemen’s capital Sanaa on Saturday have killed 82 and injured 534, acting health minister Ghazi Ismail told reporters in a press conference on Saturday night.

The acting minister strongly condemned what he said “barbaric air attacks against civilians and civilian targets.”

Meanwhile, the country’s higher governing body, the Supreme Political Council, led by Houthi top officials and political party of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, called on people to go to the streets on Sunday to protest the Saudi-led coalition air strikes against civilians in Yemen.

The Health Ministry issued an appeal for citizens to donate blood for the victims and urged doctors to go to hospitals to help treating the injured.

Earlier in the day, rescuers and witnesses said a series of air strikes by Saudi-led coalition warplanes hit a mourning ceremony in Sanaa.

The mourning ceremony was held for the father of the acting interior minister and rebel Houthi loyalist Jalal al-Ruwaishan.

“We are pulling more and more charred bodies. I counted at least 160 dead bodies until now and there were more under the rubble of the funeral ceremony hall,” Khaled Yosuf, one of the rescuers, told Xinhua.

He said al-Ruwaishan and the capital mayor Abdul-Kadir Hilal were feared to be dead.

Two air strikes firstly bombed the vicinity of the big hall, and people fled into outside.

Eyewitnesses said that a third strike hit the hall directly afterwards, where hundreds of people were offering condolences to al-Ruwaishan.

“I saw tens of people dead and dozens others badly injured. Blood is everywhere,” an eyewitness said on condition of anonymity.

Some witnesses said senior Houthi officials and their ally former President Ali Abdullah Saleh were in the hall.

Streets leading to the hall were all closed by pro-Houthi security forces. Journalists and cameramen were prevented from getting into the scene.

Houthis, backed by Saleh’s loyal forces, stormed Sanaa in September 2014, fighting against what they said “Hadi’s government corruption.”

They seized Sanaa and many parts of the country’s north, forcing Hadi and his government to flee into exile.

The Saudi-led coalition launched a military air campaign against Houthis and Saleh’s forces on March 26, 2015 to restore Hadi to power and recapture the capital.

The coalition’s air raids and ground battles have since killed over 10,000 Yemenis, mostly children and women, injuring around 35,000 others and displacing three million others, according to UN reports. PNA/