Yemeni medical officials raise death toll from Saudi airstrikes on wedding to 131

The death toll from Saudi-led airstrikes that hit a wedding party in Yemen has risen to 131, making it the deadliest single incident since the start of the country's civil war, medical officials said Tuesday.

SANAA, Yemen — The death toll from Saudi-led airstrikes that hit a wedding party in Yemen has risen to 131, making it the deadliest single incident since the start of the country’s civil war, medical officials said Tuesday.

The U.N. says at least 2,355 civilians have been killed in fighting since March, when the coalition began launching airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebels and allied army units, who control the capital and are at war with the internationally recognized government as well as southern separatists, local militias and Sunni extremists.

At least 80 women were killed in the wedding airstrikes in the central province of Taiz, said Yemeni medical officials who work in the province and have been neutral in the conflict. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

Hassan Boucenine, of the Geneva-based Doctors Without Borders, called it the deadliest single incident since the beginning of the conflict.

“To be honest it’s worse and worse…it’s beyond despair,” said Boucenine, speaking about the war.

The Saudi-led and U.S.-backed coalition apparently struck the wedding party by mistake on Monday in al-Wahga, a village near the town of Mokha and the strategic Strait of Bab al-Mandab, Yemeni security officials said. The region is largely populated by fishermen and livestock traders.

“They struck a wedding, there were only civilians there and most of them died because the Mokha hospital is closed because of supply — no drugs, no fuel, no electricity, no nothing, so the staff left,” Boucenine said. The provincial capital of Taiz was inaccessible due to ongoing fighting.

He added that there was no heavy military presence in the vicinity of the strikes.

Victims were transported to Hodeida province to the north, he said, and most of them died on the road. Witness Ahmed Nagy said many of the injured were moved in pickup trucks used for transporting animals.

Paramedic Khaled Basees said local people took on the medical operation without any state assistance, adding that some of the dead were torn apart and their unidentifiable remains buried in a mass grave.

Another witness, Mehdi Abdel Salam, said missile fragments destroyed several homes next to the wedding.

Officials from the Saudi-led coalition could not immediately be reached for comment.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon condemned the airstrikes, which he said “killed as many as 135 people” and called on all parties involved in the conflict in Yemen, “from inside and outside the country, to immediately cease all military activities.”

The fighting in Taiz continued Tuesday, with three civilians killed and 13 wounded by Houthi shelling, neutral security and medical officials said on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief reporters.

The office of the U.N. human rights chief said 151 civilians were killed in fighting in Yemen over two weeks in September, taking the civilian death toll to 2,355 over the last six months. The figure, which dates to Sept. 24, does not include the casualties from the wedding party strikes.

The office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights cited both sides in the conflict, pointing to coalition airstrikes and “indiscriminate” shelling in residential areas. It called on the Saudi-led coalition and Yemen’s government to allow “independent and impartial” investigations.

“Almost two-thirds of reported civilian deaths had allegedly been caused by coalition airstrikes, which were also responsible for almost two-thirds of damaged or destroyed civilian public buildings,” the office of the U.N. human rights chief said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Red Deer jumps to 449 active COVID-19 cases on Sunday

1,516 new cases identified in Alberta

The QEII was closed Sunday morning due to a pole fire. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
UPDATE: QEII near Red Deer reopens

The QEII has been reopened after being closed due to a pole… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Bashaw RCMP investigate fatal collision in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP are investigating after a fatal collision Saturday afternoon. Police were… Continue reading

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It's not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he'd been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

DELIA, Alta. — It’s not often police can report that a unicorn… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

San Jose's Tomas Hertl, center, celebrates with teammates Patrick Marleau, left, and Rudolfs Blacers, right, after Hertl scored a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Friday, April 16, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s games record

For Patrick Marleau, the best part about Monday night when he is… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at… Continue reading

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

Most Read