Coalition opens probe into deadly Yemen hospital raid that killed 11

Doctors Without Borders said the hospital’s GPS coordinates had been shared with all sides to the conflict, including the Saudi-led coalition

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2016, 10:12am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2016, 9:29pm

A Saudi-led coalition said it had launched an independent investigation into reports of an air strike on a hospital in Yemen which Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said killed 11 people.

More than 19 people were also wounded in the raid Monday that hit the MSF-supported hospital in the rebel-held northern province of Hajja, the Paris-based aid agency said, adding that one of its staff was among the dead.

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Key Saudi ally Washington condemned the attack, which came less than 48 hours after air strikes on a Koranic school in neighbouring rebel-held province Saada killed 10 children, according to MSF.

As criticism of the civilian death toll from its bombing campaign has mounted, the coalition has set up a standing investigation team.

“The Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) is aware of reports of an air raid on a hospital in Hajja... and has urgently launched an independent investigation into these reports,” the team said.

The team will “obtain more information from MSF and will publicly announce the findings” of the probe,“ it said in a statement published on the official Saudi Press Agency.

The JIAT said it was also investigating Saturday’s strikes on the school in Saada.

The coalition denied it had targeted the school, saying it bombed a rebel training camp for child soldiers.

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A Saudi-led Arab coalition has been battling Iran-backed rebels since March 2015 in support of Yemen’s government, after insurgents seized Sanaa before moving into other parts of the country.

MSF said the hospital’s GPS coordinates had been shared with all sides to the conflict, including the Saudi-led coalition.

“Once again, a fully functional hospital full of patients and MSF national and international staff members, was bombed in a war that has shown no respect for medical facilities or patients,” Teresa Sancristoval, for MSF’s Emergency Unit in Yemen, said.

“Even with the recent United Nations resolution calling for an end to attacks on medical facilities and with the high level declarations of commitment to international humanitarian law, nothing seems to be done to make parties involved in the conflict in Yemen respect medical staff and patients.

“Without action, these public gestures are meaningless for today’s victims. Either intentional or a result of a negligence, this is unacceptable”.

Earlier this month, the coalition acknowledged “shortcomings” in two out of eight cases it had investigated of UN-condemned air strikes on civilian targets in Yemen.