Yemen funeral strike based on wrong information, probe reveals

Coalition says it will offer compensation to the families of the victims of the October 8 strike

Image Credit: REUTERS
Pro-government soldiers hold a poster of Major-General Abdel-Rab al-Shadadi, a top general in forces loyal to Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government killed in fighting with Iran-aligned Houthi troops, during his funeral in Marib city, Yemen.
Gulf News

Sana’a: An investigation team with the Saudi-led Arab coalition says wrong information led to the lethal bombing of a packed funeral in the Yemeni capital Sana’a last weekend, which killed around 140 people and wounded more than 600.

The Joint Incidents Assessment Team accused “a party affiliated to the Yemeni Presidency of the General Chief of Staff” of passing wrong information that the hall was packed with Houthi leaders.

It added that the party insisted the location was “a legitimate military target,” the statement written in English said. It also said the Air Operation Centre in Yemen directed a “close air support mission” to target the site without getting approval from the coalition’s command. The committee said compensation must be offered to the families of the victims.

Meanwhile, an explosion killed six people and wounded 20 as they attended a funeral service in the Yemeni city of Marib, east of Sana’a, sources confirmed to Gulf News.

The blast occurred as condolences were being paid after the death of Major-General Abdul Rab Al Shadadi, an army general in Marib who was killed last week in fighting with Al Houthi militia, local officials said.

Al Houthi-run media claimed that among those killed in Friday’s blast was Salem Al Shadadi, the older brother of the general.

Yemen’s war has intensified since UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait ended in August without an agreement. Fighting has been concentrated around the country’s Al Houthi-controlled Sana’a.

Most of Marib is under the control of forces loyal to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the rest held by Iran-backed Al Houthis, who are battling his internationally recognised government.

On October 8, an air strike widely blamed on the Saudi-led Arab coalition, fighting to restore Hadi’s legitimate government, ripped through a vigil attended by some of Yemen’s top political and security officials. Sources in the coalition initially denied any role in Saturday’s attack that killed mourners at a community hall in Sana’a, but Saudi Arabia later promised an investigation of the “regrettable and painful incident”.

The US said it would review its cooperation with the Arab coalition following the strike.

The funeral wake was for the father of the interior minister of northern Yemen’s Houthi-run administration, Jalal Al Roweishan, who died of natural causes on Friday. Yemenis say the Roweishan family is widely respected and has good ties with many groups and tribes across Yemen’s political spectrum.

“A number of important figures who are part of the reconciliation process were killed ... That is unfortunate,” said the first US official. “It’s hard to replace those people. There are hardliners on all sides of this conflict and so those ... who are willing to forge more of a middle ground and work for compromise are going to be sorely missed,

Meanwhile, US officials on Friday speaking to Reuters said they were confident that Al Houthi rebels had targeted a US Navy guided missile destroyer on Sunday and Wednesday in failed missile attacks. The United States retaliated on Thursday by launching cruise missiles at three coastal radar sites in areas of Yemen controlled by Al Houthis.