First Published: 2017-03-17

Over 40 Somali refugees shot dead off Yemeni coast
Dozens including women, children killed aboard boat in Red Sea near Yemen, still unclear who is responsible.
Middle East Online

IOM believes boat heading for Sudan

SANAA - More than 40 people including women and children have been shot dead aboard a boat carrying Somali refugees in the Red Sea off war-torn Yemen, officials said on Friday.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.

The refugees were hit by light weapons fire in waters off rebel-held Hodeida but the boat managed to dock in the city's port, an official there said.

The International Organization for Migration, which has operations in Yemen, said 42 bodies had been recovered.

The port official said dozens of Somalis who survived the attack, as well as three Yemeni traffickers, had been taken to the city's prison.

More than 30 wounded were reported to have been taken to hospital.

The rebel-controlled Saba agency accused the Saudi-led coalition battling the insurgents of attacking the refugees from the air but did not provide further details.

Major General Ahmed Assiri, spokesman for the coalition, dismissed the accusation and said that the force had not been involved in fighting in Hodeida.

"There has been no firing by the coalition in this zone," the spokesman said.

The coalition has been backing pro-government forces waging an offensive from the south to retake Yemen's Red Sea coast from Huthi rebel forces.

It was unclear whether those on board were trying to leave Yemen or seek refuge there, but the IOM said it believed the boat was headed for Sudan.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said 140 passengers were believed to have been aboard the vessel.

- Civilians bear the brunt -

Despite a war that has cost more than 7,000 lives since March 2015 and brought the country to the brink of famine, Yemen continues to attract people fleeing the horn of Africa.

Several refugee camps in southern Yemen host Somali refugees, although not in the Hodeida area.

The UNHCR said that as conditions worsen in Yemen, refugees are starting to use areas further to the north as a transit route.

It called on all sides in Yemen's war to protect civilians.

"UNHCR is appalled by this tragic incident, the latest in which civilians continue to disproportionately bear the brunt of conflict in Yemen," it said.

The coast south of Hodeida has seen violent clashes over the past 24 hours, leaving 32 dead including 10 civilians, according to military and medical officials.

The fighting killed 14 rebels and eight soldiers supporting the UN-backed government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, military sources said.

That came as pro-Hadi forces sought to advance northwards from the port town of Mokha in an offensive to retake Yemen's western coast from Huthi rebel forces.

Saudi-led coalition aircraft had taken part in the assault, the same sources said.

Seven fishermen were also killed off Hodeida by gunfire from an unidentified source, while a further seven were killed in a car near Mokha, hospital workers said.

The UN's humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien has called Yemen "the largest humanitarian crisis in the world", with two-thirds of the population in need of aid.

On Friday, a rebel missile attack killed at least 26 members of the pro-government forces in a camp east of the capital Sanaa, officials at a hospital in Marib town said.

 

Pentagon skeptical about Russia's Syria pullout claims

Senior Saudi prince blasts Trump's "opportunistic" Jerusalem move

Kuwait ruler’s son named defence minister

EU accused of complicity in Libya migrant rights violations

Saudi Arabia lifts decades-long ban on cinemas

Russia begins partial withdrawal from Syria

Russia weary of returning IS jihadists before World Cup, election

6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes Iran

EU says Syria war ‘ongoing’ despite Russia pullout

Istanbul nightclub gunman refuses to testify

Integrating Syrians in Turkey carries implications

US opinion views Muslims and Arabs more favourably but political affiliation makes a difference

Iranian conservative protesters say Trump hastening end of Israel

Jordan referred to UN for failing to arrest Sudanese president

Turkey demands life for journalists in coup bid trial

Netanyahu expects EU to follow suit on Jerusalem

Putin orders withdrawal of ‘significant’ amount of troops from Syria

Putin to meet with Sisi in Cairo

GCC at a critical juncture

Houthi rebels tighten grip on Sanaa after Saleh’s assassination

Israel’s Syrian air strikes risk renewing escalation as Iran expands presence in Golan

Qatar to acquire 24 Typhoon fighters from UK

Bahraini civil society group criticised after Israel visit

Israel PM faces renewed pressure in Europe

Palestinian stabs Israeli guard in ‘terrorist’ attack

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed says US Jerusalem decision could help terrorists

Fateh encourages more protests, refuses to meet Pence

Chinese electric carmaker to open Morocco factory

Iraqi victory over IS remains fragile

Morocco’s renewed ties with South Africa likely to consolidate support for Western Sahara stance

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at protestors

Syria’s justice system: ‘working without a written law'

Egypt revives controversial desert capital project

Iran sentences fugitive ex-bank chief to jail

Iraq announces 'end of the war against Daesh'

Israeli air strike kills 2 in Gaza

UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

Turkey's Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from IS

Isolated US defiant at UN Security Council

Putin to visit Turkey for talks on Jerusalem, Syria

Protests sweep Muslim world over Jerusalem

US urges Saudi to show caution in regional disputes

Thousands march in Istanbul to protest US Jerusalem move

Bahrain Shiite leader undergoes surgery