A Saudi government Apache helicopter attacked a boat packed with Somali refugees off the coast of Yemen, killing at least 42 people.
Ibrahim Ali Zeyad, a sailor who operated the boat, said on Friday 80 refugees were rescued after the incident. Most of them are in extremely critical condition and have been rushed to nearby hospitals.
The Apache helicopter, supplied to Saudi Arabia by the United States, targeted refugees on their way from Yemen to Sudan. The attack was among the deadliest throughout the violent Saudi-led, US-backed military campaign against Houthis in Yemen that began in 2015.
“We are appalled by this tragic incident, the latest in which civilians continue to disproportionately bear the brunt of conflict in Yemen,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Yemen said in a statement, TeleSUR reported.
“As conditions in Yemen further deteriorate as a result of ongoing conflict, refugees and asylum seekers are increasingly resorting to move onwards from Yemen further north, taking well-established migratory routes.”
Saudi spokesperson General Ahmed al-Asseri justified the attack by claiming the area, Hudaida, is “illegally” under the control of Houthis. He claimed they are using the port city for “trafficking people, smuggling weapons and attacks against the line of communications in the Red Sea.”