Saudi Arabia denies air strikes hit Yemen hospital

  • 29/10/2015
Saudi Arabia denies air strikes hit Yemen hospital

Saudi Arabia has denied that coalition air strikes hit a hospital in Yemen run by medical charity MSF after the attack was condemned by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The hospital in the northern city of Saada was hit late Monday, but MSF (Doctors Without Borders) said there were no casualties.

The Saudi mission to the United Nations said in a statement that "the Arab coalition aircrafts did not attack the hospital" and were not in Saada at the time.

Coalition forces had been given the exact coordinates of the hospital which were placed "within the forbidden targets", the Saudi statement said.

"Accordingly, this hospital could not have been targeted by the coalition forces," it added.

The Saudi mission said a thorough investigation was under way and expressed its "deep regret" that Ban had blamed the coalition "without waiting for full and accurate information about that regrettable incident."

In a statement issued Tuesday (local time), Ban condemned the air strikes which he said had been carried out by the Saudi-led coalition and called for an investigation.

The UN chief renewed his call for an end to the fighting including the air campaign launched by Saudi Arabia in March to push back an advance by Iran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen.

The United Nations is increasingly alarmed at the heavy toll on civilians from the Saudi air campaign that has led to a major humanitarian crisis, with 80 per cent of the population in dire need of aid.

Nearly 5000 people have been killed in the bombing campaign.

Yemen's UN ambassador Khaled Alyemany told reporters that the UN deputy envoy for Yemen was holding preparatory peace talks with the Huthis in Oman and would then travel to Riyadh to meet with the government.

Alyemany said he hoped formal talks will get under way in the first two weeks of November, most likely in Geneva. No date has been set yet.

A UN bid to launch peace talks in June failed over demands for a Huthi withdrawal from seized territory, but this time, much effort is put in ensuring there is agreement on the agenda.