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Air strike in Yemen kills 24 civilians

The World Health Organization estimates more than 8,000 people have been killed since 2015 in the war between the Saudi-supported government in Yemen and the Iranian-backed Huthis
Ahmad AL-BASHA (AFP/File)
A Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes in Yemen for more than two years

At least 24 Yemeni civilians were killed in an air raid Sunday on a market near the border with Saudi Arabia, a medical official said.

Most of the casualties worked in the Mashnaq market, which sells the mild narcotic qat, in the rebel-controlled northern Saada province, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Witnesses said the market was a centre for trafficking in Qat, a leafy stimulant plant that is widely used in Yemen but illegal in Saudi Arabia.

One of the witnesses said some of the casualties had "just returned from a trip across the border".

The Saudi-led Arab coalition has been carrying out air strikes in Yemen for more than two years against Shiite Huthi rebels.

Saada itself has come under heavy bombing since 2015, when the Arab coalition intervened to support the government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in its fight against the Iran-backed Huthis.

More than 8,000 people have been killed in the past two years and tens of thousands wounded, according to the World Health Organization.

Yemen's Huthi rebels, who control a string of strategic ports along the Red Sea coastline, have sporadically launched rocket attacks across the border into Saudi Arabia.

In late January, the rebels attacked a Saudi warship in the Red Sea, killing two sailors.

In addition to widespread food and water shortages, since April the country has been in the grip of a rapidly spreading cholera epedemic.

On Thursday the chief UN humanitarian coordinator told i24NEWS that if nothing is done to address the crisis, the number of expected cases could soar to 280,000 within the next few months.

“The almost 140,000 cases as of today will double and the deaths will double as well in the coming months if the current conditions prevail and if we don’t get the resources and we don’t get in front of it,” warned the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick.

One child contracts cholera every 35 seconds in Yemen, with just over 5000 overall cases added daily, the aid agency Save the Children said in a statement on Wednesday. Approximately 40,000 suspected cases have been reported in the last seven days, although McGoldrick warned the number is probably higher but many of the health centers that compile the reports have ceased to function.

(Staff with AFP)

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