Saudi Arabia backtracks to deny hitting Doctors Without Borders hospital in Yemen

Published October 29th, 2015 - 12:21 GMT
Five airstrikes on Monday hit a hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres in Saada, a Houthi stronghold and designated military target by Saudi Arabia. (AFP/File)
Five airstrikes on Monday hit a hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres in Saada, a Houthi stronghold and designated military target by Saudi Arabia. (AFP/File)

As the UN chief calls for an investigation into fives airstrikes that hit a hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), Saudi Arabia stumbles to figure out what narrative it wants to stick to.

The kingdom on Wednesday denied hitting a hospital in Yemen's northwestern city of Saada, but not before an official blamed the incident on the nonprofit medical organization. 

In a statement to the UN on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia said it wasn't responsible for the attack on the facility, which had no casualties. Saudi Arabia had been provided the exact location of the hospital, AFP reported, so it couldn't have hit an area that's off-limits. 

"Accordingly, this hospital could not have been targeted by the coalition forces," the statement said.

But that's a different story from what Abdallah al-Mouallimi, Saudi representative on the UN, said in an interview Tuesday. Here's what he told VICE News a day earlier:

"The coalition forces tried to avoid the location that was given to them by Medecins Sans Frontieres, and they were targeting a field that was used by the Houthis for training and ammunition gathering. This [hospital] was hit by mistake as a result of Medicins Sans Frontieres providing wrong coordinates of their location."

Of course, that explanation didn't fly. It was a claim the nonprofit quickly proved wrong. 

Saada is a city held by Houthi rebels and designated a military target by the Saudi-led coalition. It's been the subject of constant airstrikes, and Human Rights Watch has criticized the kingdom for its "blatant disregard" for civilian lives

By Hayat Norimine


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