Saudi strike on refugee boat kills over 31 off Yemen coast

Posted March 18, 2017

Thirty-one Somali refugees were reportedly killed off the coast of Yemen late on Thursday when a helicopter attacked the boat they were travelling in, a coastguard in the Houthi-controlled Hudaydah area has said.

The civil war, ground battles and airstrikes have already killed more than 10,000 people, half of them civilians, injured more than 35,000 others and displaced over two millions, according to humanitarian agencies.

The Saba news agency, controlled by rebels, said the airstrikes took place off the coast of Hodeida and close to Bab al-Mandab strait.

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

Laurent De Boeck, head of the International Organisation for Migration in the rebel-held Yemeni capital, Sanaa, told the Associated Press 77 survivors were taken to a detention centre in Hodeida.

In January, a senior United Nations official said it is estimated that the death toll in the conflict has surpassed 10,000 people. Children were reported to be among the dead.

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"Our confirmation is that there are dozens of deaths", said spokesman Joel Millman.

The organization said the refugees, who were from Somalia, were probably heading towards Sudan.

Several camps in Yemen's south host migrants from the Horn of Africa. It did not say who was behind the airstrike.

UPI reported Thursday that Boeing just this week "received a $3.2 billion contract modification to support the U.S. Army's foreign military sale of Apache helicopters to Saudi Arabia".

Yemen's Shiite rebels accused the Saudi-led air coalition of carrying out the attack. Only 14 bodies had arrived at the morgue so far, the Yemeni official said, adding that women were among the dead.

Yemen has been under an aggression by Saudi-led coalition since March 2015.