Saudi-led coalition admits it 'wrongly' bombed Sanaa funeral hall

Saudi-led coalition admits it 'wrongly' bombed Sanaa funeral hall
The Saudi-led coalition released a statement on Friday, claiming that a combination of bad intelligence and a breakdown in communication led to a bombing last Saturday that killed 140 Yemenis.
2 min read
15 October, 2016
Soldiers root through the rubble in the aftermath of the air-strike last Saturday [AFP]

The Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen has admitted that "bad information" and a "breakdown in communication" led to the bombing of a funeral wake in the capital Sanaa last Saturday which left at least 140 civilians dead.

According to a press statement released to the government-run Saudi Press Agency, the coalition's Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) found a "party affiliated to the Yemeni President's Chief of Staff wrongly passed information" about the presence of Houthi leaders in the hall.

A total of 32 military personnel were killed in the strike in the Haddah neighbourhood of Sanaa, including one top Houthi general. Thirty more soldiers were injured in the bombing, along with dozens of civilians.

The investigation found that the Air Operations Center had conducted the strike without approval from central command. This meant that "precautionary measures" against striking civilian areas were not followed.

According to a report by the Yemen Data Project, a group of human rights researchers, a third of coalition air-strikes in Yemen were on non-military areas. Saudi Arabia responded to the report, saying it was "vastly over-exaggerated".

The JIAT's statement asserts that "appropriate action … must be taken against those who caused the incident" and promises "compensation to the families of the victims".

It also recommends an immediate review of the rules of engagement and an update of procedures.

The press release fails to specify any details on the compensation being offered or on details of how those responsible will be punished.

According to the press release, the JIAT claims to have launched an investigation on 8 October, the same day as the attack.

previous press release from 9 October discredited this claim as it was only the next day that a spokesperson promised to open an investigation.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the airstrikes were a "heartless attack on civilians and an outrageous violation of international humanitarian law", while Riyadh faced a wave of criticism from the international community, including its ally the US.