A Saudi-led airstrike killed at least 20 people and injured 30 attending a wedding in a village in northwestern Yemen late Sunday, residents and medical sources said, but other reports give higher numbers.
The head of Al Jumhouri hospital in Hajjah told Reuters by telephone that the hospital had received 40 bodies, most of them torn to pieces, and that 46 people had been injured, including 30 children, in airstrikes that hit the wedding gathering.
Saudi authorities claimed they would investigate the incident. “We take this report very seriously and it will be fully investigated as all reports of this nature are,” a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said.
Residents of a village called Taiba elsewhere in the province told Reuters that a separate airstrike killed a family of four in their house on Sunday night.
But this is not the first time the coalition, backed by the U.S. and other western allies, targets family gatherings, including weddings. Just in December 2017, a similar airstrike killed about a dozen women coming back home from a wedding in Qatamesh.
In 2015, two separate airstrikes killed 131 in a wedding in the al-Wahjiah village at the Red Sea and 43 in a wedding in Sanaban, in the Dhammar governorate.
But perhaps the most well known case is that of the funeral airstrike in Sanaa, where the Saudi-led coalition killed at least 155 people and injured 525. The first airstrike was followed by a second one, probably targeting the wounded and people trying to provide aid.
The Saudi government had claimed the attack was carried out without authorization and with false information given by the Yemeni government they recognize.
But the high-profile nature of the funeral suggests something else. It was being held for the former interior minister Jalal al-Rowaishan's father, and the double-airstrike killed several Houthi top officers.
All these reports have been "very seriously" taken by Saudi authorities, but no responsibility has been claimed.
“We take this report very seriously and it will be fully investigated as all reports of this nature are, using an internationally approved, independent process,” said a spokesperson of the international coalition when one of their airstrikes destroyed a house in Hudayda, killed 12 family members including children, which sounds uncomfortably similar to the one issued Monday.
The Western-backed alliance has been fighting a war for three years against the Ansarallah rebel group, popularly known as “Houthis,” which ousted the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Mansour Hadi in 2015 and established a Supreme Revolutionary Committee after several failed dialogue attempts.
They currently control the capital Sanaa and much of northern Yemen.
Thy Saudi coalition has launched thousands of airstrikes in a campaign to restore President Hadi, leading to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, largely ignored by international media.
The coalition says it does not target civilians, but strikes have killed hundreds of them at hospitals, schools, gatherings and markets. They have set up an investigation committee for the airstrikes, which have mostly cleared the coalition of any blame.
The Yemen war has killed more than 10,000 people, more than half of them are civilians, displaced more than 2 million and driven the country to the verge of famine, according to the United Nations.