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.

 

Israel kills three in attack on pro-regime Syria camp

Iran's historically unpredictable elections

France votes under heavy security

US Defense Secretary Mattis visits strategic Djibouti

Satellite dishes sprout in post-IS east Mosul

Iran reverses decision to ban live presidential debates

Six Israelis including two soldiers held for anti-Arab attacks

Economists, rights advocates concerned over Egypt’s state of emergency

Qatari hunters ecstatic at release from Iraqi kidnappers

Prosecutor says charities colluding with migrant traffickers

Iran's Ahmadinejad won't endorse other candidates

Rocky days ahead after Turkey referendum

Huge Shiite crowd throngs Baghdad shrine

Rabat accuses Algiers of expelling 55 migrants across border

Morocco, US take part in joint military exercise

US defence secretary visits key ally Qatar

Lebanese activists ramp up campaign against rape law

Saudis among kidnapped hunters freed in Iraq

Trial in Tunisia beach massacre set to begin April 26

Tunisia hotel attacked by jihadists sees hope in 'rebirth'

IS claims deadly attack on FSB office in Russia

Spate of attacks shows weakening of Islamic State

Mediterranean migrant death toll tops 1,000 in 2017

Iraq forces free 11-year-old Yazidi girl in Mosul

Kuwaiti opposition leader freed from prison

Kidnapped Qataris freed in Iraq, Syria evacuations resume

Turkey opposition to appeal referendum at top court

Fears engulf French election after Paris shooting

An Iraqi family's Colombian odyssey

US defence chief in Israel for talks on Iran, Syria

Morocco arrests scandal-hit Ferrari driving 'rich kid'

Syria evacuees on move again after being blocked for 48 hours

French policeman killed in IS attack in Paris

Trump: Iran not 'living up to spirit' of nuclear deal

Ahmadinejad barred from running in election

US urges UN council to focus on 'incredibly destructive' Iran

Iran bans live election debates

UN, Russia set for Syria meet without US

Suicide bombers at Syria transit site 'disguised' as aid workers

Moscow bid for new Syria attack probe rejected

Iraq summons Turkish envoy over Erdogan interview

Erdogan revives death penalty debate in Turkey

Thousands protest unemployment in Tunisia

Israel occupation forces fire at Palestinian protesters

Saudi Arabia malls to hire only locals