Dozens dead as dairy factory bombed in Yemen

Dozens dead as dairy factory bombed in Yemen
At least 37 workers killed in the bombing in Yemen's port city of Hodeida, as the foreign minister calls for a rapid Arab ground force.
3 min read
01 April, 2015
Many homes have been destroyed after airstrikes part of the 'Decisive Storm' operation [Anadolu /Getty]

Dozens of civilians were reported dead Wednesday in the bombing of a dairy factory in Yemen.

At least 37 workers were killed and 80 wounded in the port city of Hodeida, provincial governor Hasan al-Hai said, without specifying whether the factory was hit by an airstrike or rebel shelling.

The Saudi-led coalition also bombed rebels in Yemen's main southern city Aden in a seventh night of raids. The strikes focused on a provincial administration complex in Dar Saad in the north of the city, according to the Saudi military.

Medical and security officials told AFP that at least 19 people are reported to have been killed in Aden. However, Houthi forces continued to advance in the city, fighting locals in the Khor Maksar area.

Saudi Arabia has vowed to keep targeting the Houthis and allied army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh until they surrender.

War in Yemen - targets so far. Click here to expand.

Iran is accused of backing the rebels but Tehran denies providing military support.

On Tuesday, Saudi troops clashed with Houthi fighters in the heaviest exchange of cross-border fire since the start of a Saudi-led air offensive last week, while Yemen's foreign minister called for a rapid Arab intervention on the ground.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of Arab states since last Thursday in an air campaign against the Houthis.

The Saudis say their aim is to restore President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who left the country last week. The Houthis are aligned with Saudi Arabia's regional foe Iran, and backed by army units loyal to longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was pushed out three years ago after "Arab Spring" demonstrations. 

Hadi's rump government, now based in Saudi Arabia, called for Riyadh to mount a ground invasion.

Asked by an interviewer whether he sought an Arab ground intervention, Yemeni foreign minister Riyadh Yaseen responded: "Yes, we are asking for that, and as soon as possible, in order to save our infrastructure and save Yemenis under siege in many cities." 

"At some stage, air strikes will be ineffective," he added.

Saudi authorities say they have moved troops to the border in preparation for a possible ground offensive, but have given no timetable to send them in.

Attack on al-Mazraq camp

Protest in Beirut against Saudi-led operations in Yemen (Anadolu)

Saudi attacks are already being blamed for the deaths of scores of civilians.

Al-Mazraq camp in Hajja was hit on Monday by what is believed to be an airstrike, killing at least killed 45 people injuring 65 others, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

IOM said the strike targeted a truck carrying Houthi militants near the camp's gate.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Medecins Sans Frontieres confirmed that the camp had been hit.

Mazraq opened to provide refuge to civilians fleeing conflict between the Houthis and the Yemeni state in 2009. At least 500 new families had entered over the past two days, the MSF programme manager in the Middle East, Pablo Marco, said.

Operation Decisive Storm spokesman Ahmed Assiri said that the coalition was trying to avoid civilian casualties.

"We cannot confirm whether this was a refugee camp, but the coalition generally tries to avoid such incidents that lead to civilian casualties," Assiri said.

Meanwhile, Yemenia Airways said 5,000 of Yemenis were trapped in foreign countries after the airline stopped flights and Yemen closed its airports.

Many were stranded in airports in Jordan, Ethiopia, Eretria, Egypt and India.

Egyptian and Jordanian authorities last Thursday decided to prevent Yemenis from entering without visas and security clearances.