Thousands of Yemenis rally in Sana’a following ‘funeral massacre’

Published October 10th, 2016 - 04:00 GMT
Site of an airstrike that hit a funeral ceremony in Sana'a. (AFP/File)
Site of an airstrike that hit a funeral ceremony in Sana'a. (AFP/File)

Thousands of Yemenis staged a rally in the capital Sana'a Sunday, condemning an airstrike on a funeral hall that the United Nations said killed at least 140 people and injured more than 500.

The rally, mostly by backers of anti-government Houthi rebels, was held near a UN office in Sana'a where the protesters chanted slogans against a Saudi-led air coalition that they blame for Saturday's attack.

The demonstrators called on the UN to denounce what they described as a "massacre" inside the funeral hall, where rescuers were still searching for victims in the rubble.

UN Secretary General Bank Ki-moon called for a "prompt and impartial investigation" into the attack, his spokesman said on Sunday.

"The Secretary-General notes that any deliberate attack against civilians is utterly unacceptable ... Those responsible for the attack must be brought to justice."

Witnesses said that multiple airstrikes hit the hall in southern Sana'a.

"I was praying in the Nour al-Salam Mosque, which is a few metres from the hall when I heard the sound of a violent airstrike," Abdul Karim Dukhaish, a witness, told dpa.

"I ran to my house near the hall fearing for my family. When I was on my way, a second strike came and hit the hall again."

Other witnesses said that there were more than 1,000 mourners inside the hall at the time of the attack.

They were there attending a funeral ceremony for the late father of pro-rebel Interior Minister Galal al-Rawishan, who survived unharmed.

Sana'a has been under the Iran-allied Houthis' control since September 2014 amid an escalating power struggle between them and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government.

Saturday's attack is believed to be one of the deadliest in the impoverished country since Saudi Arabia and fellow Sunni allies started an air campaign against mostly Shia rebels in Yemen in March 2015.

The Saudi-led alliance denied responsibility for the deaths, saying it will investigate the incident.

The United States said Saturday it would begin an "immediate review" of its support for the coalition spearheaded by the Saudis in Yemen following the attack.

Saudi Arabia fears that Yemen's mostly Shia rebels will give its regional rival, Shia Iran, a strategic foothold on the Arabian Peninsula.

By Amal Al-Yarisi

© 2021 dpa GmbH

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