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24 March, 2016

Saudi-led coalition bombardment in a market in Yemen leaves 120 dead

War Crimes

Around midday on March 15, fighter jets from a Saudi-led coalition bombed a market in Mastaba, in Yemen’s northern province of Hajjah. The latest count indicates that about 120 people were killed, including more than 20 children, and 80 were wounded in the strikes — perhaps the deadliest attack yet in a war that has killed more than 6,000 civilians. Local residents and health officials say the carnage was so great in Mastaba that most of the bodies could hardly be identified, and several were beyond recognition.

The Saudi coalition consists of nine Arab states that have joined forces against Houthi rebels who have taken over large parts of Yemen. While U.S. fighter jets are not involved in the bombing campaign, the U.S. is providing intelligence and other forms of assistance, including weapons sales and aerial refueling of the Arab jets. After the latest attack, a top United Nations official, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, said the coalition might be committing war crimes. While the horrific terrorist attacks against civilians in Europe receive extensive media coverage, the U.S.-supported bombings of civilians in Yemen get scant attention.

At the roadside marketplace in Mastaba, journalist Mohammed Ali Kalfood interviewed a number of survivors this weekend. The following is the account of Khaled Hassan Mohammadi, 21, who sold sacks of flour at the market and survived the attack. Mohammadi’s account has been translated and condensed.

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