A Yemeni hospital run by medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was bombed in a Saudi-led air strike, wrecking the facility and wounding several people, the hospital director said on Tuesday.
A Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March to try to restore its government after its toppling by Houthi forces but the civilian death toll has escalated since then, alarming the United Nations and human rights groups.
“The MSF facility in Saada, (north) Yemen was hit by several air strikes last night with patients and staff inside the facility,” Medecins sans Frontieres said in a tweet.
Yemen’s state news agency Saba, run by the Iran-allied Houthis whom the Arab coalition is fighting, quoted the Heedan hospital director as saying several people were injured in the attack, which occurred in Houthi-controlled north Yemen.
“The air raids resulted in the destruction of the entire hospital with all that was inside – devices and medical supplies – and the moderate wounding of several people,” Ali Mughli said.
Saba said other air strikes hit a nearby girls school and damaged several civilian homes.
It was not immediately possible to confirm that report, and a coalition spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
An MSF hospital was bombed in an American air strike in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan on Oct. 3, killing 22 people including 12 MSF staff.
U.S. President Barack Obama apologised for the attack, but MSF continues to call for an independent humanitarian commission to investigate what it calls a war crime.
“International humanitarian law is not about “mistakes”. It is about intention, facts and why … It is precisely because attacking hospitals in war zones is prohibited that we expected to be protected,” MSF director Joanne Liu said this month.
Seven months of air strikes in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and other U.S.-allied Gulf Arab countries have yet to loosen the Houthis’ grip on the capital Sanaa and make headway towards restoring the now Saudi-based Yemeni government to power.
The United States and Britain are supporting the coalition with intelligence and both are long-time arms suppliers to their Gulf Arab allies.
Human rights groups have voiced concern at the mounting death toll from aerial bombing and ground fighting raging across Yemen. Amnesty International has recommended an arms embargo on coalition states, citing repeated bombing of Yemeni civilians.
In a separate bombing on Monday, residents reported that a coalition air strike killed Haradh hospital director Yasser Wathab and two people he was travelling with in a car in the northwestern province of Hajja. They said the group were en route to treat patients killed by an earlier air strike.
And the Saudi civil defence ministry said on its Twitter account that several shells fired from Houthi-held north Yemen over the border into the Saudi city of Najran killed two foreign residents and wounding a Saudi citizen.
More than 5,600 people have died in Yemen’s conflict and shuttle diplomacy by a United Nations envoy has yet to secure a political solution or reduce the intensity of combat.
(Reporting By Noah Browning, Mohammed Ghobari, Mostafa Hashem and Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Mark Heinrich)