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Yemen war: Seven killed in air strike near Kitaf hospital

Aftermath of air strike that damaged Kitaf rural hospital in north-western Yemen (26 March 2019)

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Save the Children

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Save the Children International’s chief executive said the attack breached international law

A charity has condemned an air strike near a hospital in rebel-held north-western Yemen that killed at least seven people, four of them children.

A missile hit a petrol station 50m (164ft) from the entrance of the Kitaf rural hospital on Tuesday morning, according to Save the Children.

The blast also injured eight people.

It was not clear who was behind the attack, but a Saudi-led coalition is carrying out air strikes in support of the government in Yemen’s civil war.

The coalition insists it never deliberately targets civilians, but human rights groups have accused it of bombing markets, schools, hospitals and residential areas.

Tuesday was the fourth anniversary of the escalation of the civil war, which has killed thousands and pushed millions to the brink of starvation.

What happened in Kitaf?

Save the Children said the petrol station in the area, which is 100km (60 miles) from the city of Saada, was struck by a missile at about 09:30 (06:30 GMT) on Tuesday, as many people were arriving at the nearby hospital.

Among those killed by the blast were a health worker and their two children, and a security guard, according to the charity. Two other adults are unaccounted for.

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Save the Children

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The rebel Houthi movement blamed the Saudi-led coalition for the attack

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the chief executive of Save the Children International, said she was “shocked and appalled by this outrageous attack” on a medical facility that the charity supported and demanded an urgent investigation.

“Innocent children and health workers have lost their lives in what appears to been an indiscriminate attack on a hospital in a densely populated civilian area. Attacks like these are a breach of international law,” she added.

Ms Thorning-Schmidt did not attribute blame for the attack, but residents and the rebel Houthi movement accused the Saudi-led coalition of carrying out the strike.

The rebel-run health ministry condemned the “coalition’s continued disregard for Yemeni lives” and said it had committed four war crimes in targeting the hospital.

There was no immediate comment from coalition officials.

Save the Children reported on Monday that at least 226 Yemeni children had been killed and 217 more injured in air raids carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in the past year.

Why is there a war in Yemen?

Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in March 2015, when the Houthis seized control of much of the west of the country and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad.

Alarmed by the rise of a group they saw as an Iranian proxy, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and seven other Arab states intervened in an attempt to restore the government.

Media captionThe hidden victims of the Yemen war

The UN says at least 7,025 civilians have been killed and 11,140 injured in the fighting. Thousands more civilians have died from preventable causes, including malnutrition, disease and poor health.

About 80% of the population – 24 million people – need humanitarian assistance and protection.

About 20 million need help securing food, including almost 10 million who the UN says are just a step away from famine. Almost 240,000 of those people are facing “catastrophic levels of hunger”.

Yemen has also struggled to deal with the largest cholera outbreak ever recorded, which has resulted in 1.49 million suspected cases and 2,960 related deaths.

Yemen war: Seven killed in air strike near Kitaf hospital}

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