Saudi Arabian authorities must investigate reported killing of civilians in Yemen

Amnesty International has urged the Saudi Arabian authorities to investigate the reported killing of seven civilians in an air raid attack in the Sa’da region of Yemen.

The Saudi Arabian Air Force reportedly dropped three bombs on a family home in the vicinity of Mithab on Monday, in what may have been a deliberate attack. It is unclear whether armed fighters were present at the house or in its vicinity at the time of the attack.

Three children and four women from the ‘Amer family are said to have been killed in the explosions, which also injured at least nine other civilians.

Fighting between Yemeni government forces and supporters of the late Shi’a cleric Hussein al-Houthi spilled over into Saudi Arabia in November, leading Saudi Arabian forces to become directly engaged against the Yemeni rebels.

“It appears that the ‘Amer family house may have been deliberately targeted by the Saudi Arabian Air Force as it was struck three times in quick succession,” said Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director, Malcolm Smart.

“In the absence of information indicating that armed al-Houthi rebels were operating inside the house or in its vicinity, we are seriously concerned that civilians may have been directly attacked.”

Amnesty International has urged Saudi Arabia’s Defence minister Prince Sultan bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Al-Saud to ensure that Saudi Arabian forces take all possible steps to ensure protection of civilians caught up in the conflict in Sa’da.

“We have asked the Saudi Arabian government to indicate what steps they are taking both to investigate this reported incident and, more generally, to ensure that all possible protection is afforded to civilians caught up in the conflict area in Yemen and along Saudi Arabia’s southern border,” said Malcolm Smart.

The three children reported to have been killed in the attack have been named as Hussein ‘Amer Muthana ‘Amer, Ameen Muthana ‘Amer and Hussein Hadi ‘Abdullah ‘Amer.

In addition, four women from the same family – Nashra Hadi Zaid, Fatima Muthana ‘Amer, Ramia ‘Ali Muthana ‘Amer and Hindah Muthana ‘Amer – are reported to have been killed by the three bombs that struck home in Sa’da’s al-‘Ammar District.

The conflict in Yemen’s Sa’da region began in 2004 and has continued intermittently since then. Fighting intensified last August since when thousands of the region’s  predominantly Sh’ia population have been forcibly displaced and scores, possibly hundreds, of people have been killed.