UN condemns Yemen market airstrike, calls for investigation
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday condemned a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a market in Yemen that reportedly killed dozens of civilians, and demanded an investigation.
At least 65 people were killed on Tuesday after coalition warplanes dropped bombs on a busy marketplace in Yemen's Hajjah province.
Witnesses on the ground told The New Arab that the scene was crowded with civilians at the time of the attack.
"The secretary general condemns the airstrikes that hit al-Khamis market in Mastaba district in the Hajjah province of Yemen yesterday," Ban's office said.
"This incident is one of the deadliest - reportedly killing and wounding scores of civilians, including women and children - since the start of the conflict," the UN chief complained.
"This is the second major incident of this kind in just over two weeks," he added, stressing that attacks on civilian areas like markets are a breach of international law.
On 27 February, a coalition airstrike on a busy market in the capital Sanaa killed and injured 40 people.
Human rights groups have repeatedly complained that airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition with technical and logistical support from the United States and Britain hit Yemeni civilian targets.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition, Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri on Wednesday said that major military operations in Yemen are coming to a close after nearly a year since the start of the Arab military intervention.
"In any military campaign you have phases...Today we are in the end of the major combat phase," Assiri told AFP, adding that the next stages would involve creating a stable security situation and then reconstruction.
The Saudi-led coalition intervened last year to back the government of President Abd Rabbo Manour Hadi in its war against Houthi rebels who overran the capital Sanaa in September 2014.
More than 6,100 people have been killed - about half of them civilians - since the start of the Saudi-led intervention.