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UN chief demands probe of Yemen wedding bombing

The Saudi-led coalition has been accused of human rights abuses in Yemen [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 October, 2015

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The top United Nations aid official has called for a swift investigation of a suspected Saudi-led airstrike that killed dozens of people at a wedding in Yemen.

The top United Nations aid official called for a swift investigation Thursday of a suspected Saudi-led airstrike that killed dozens of people at a wedding in Yemen.

Stephen O'Brien, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said he was "deeply disturbed" by the news that civilians had been killed in Wednesday evening's bombing.

     With modern weapons technology, there is little excuse for error
- Stephen O'Brien, UN

"I call for a swift, transparent and impartial investigation into this incident," O'Brien said in a statement.

"Real accountability for parties to conflict, whether they are states or non-state groups, is urgently needed, to ensure that the commitment under international law to protect civilians is meaningful," he added.

O'Brien quoted Yemen's ministry of public health as saying that at least 47 people were killed and 35 were injured, among them many women and children, in the strike.

Medical sources confirmed at least 28 deaths to AFP.

The raid hit a house where dozens of people were celebrating in the town of Sanban in Dhamar province, 60 miles [100 kilometres] south of the capital Sanaa, residents said.

It was the second alleged airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition on a Yemeni wedding party in just over a week.

But the coalition, under mounting criticism over the civilian death toll of its bombing campaign against Houthi rebels, denied any involvement in the latest attack, dismissing the report as rebel propaganda.

"We did not conduct any operation in Dhamar," the rebel-held province south of the capital Sanaa where the alleged strike took place, coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri told AFP.

"No strikes there. Definitely."

O'Brien noted that 4,500 civilians have been killed or injured since the Saudi-led coalition began airstrikes against rebels in Yemen in March.

"That is more than in any country or crisis in the world during the same period," he noted.

The strongly-worded statement underscored that the sides have a responsibility under international law to avoid damage to homes and other civilian structures.

"With modern weapons technology, there is little excuse for error," he added.

A Western-backed resolution calling for a UN investigation into rights abuses committed during the conflict in Yemen was withdrawn last week at the UN rights council due to protests from Saudi Arabia.

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