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Saudi-led Coalition Blames Faulty Data for Lethal Bombing of Yemen Funeral

  • VOA News

People inspect the aftermath of a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a funeral in Sana'a, Yemen, Oct. 8, 2016. The coalition on Saturday said its warplanes bombed the wrong target.

People inspect the aftermath of a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a funeral in Sana'a, Yemen, Oct. 8, 2016. The coalition on Saturday said its warplanes bombed the wrong target.

Investigators with the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemeni rebels said Saturday that incorrect information led to the bombing of a crowded funeral in the Yemeni capital last weekend, killing about 140 people and wounding at least 525 others.

The Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) said "a party affiliated to the Yemeni Presidency of the General Chief of Staff" provided the wrong information.

JIAT said one of the coalition's warplanes bombed the wrong target, resulting in one of the most deadly strikes in the coalition's nearly 19-month-old bombing campaign in support of the Yemeni government's beleaguered government.

"Because of non-compliance with coalition rules of engagement and procedures, and the issuing of incorrect information, a coalition aircraft wrongly targeted the location, resulting in civilian deaths and injuries," the team said.

The strike prompted strong international criticism, even from Saudi Arabia's closest Western allies.

Britain is expected to propose a resolution to the U.N. Security Council next week calling for an immediate cease-fire in Yemen.

JIAT is calling on coalition leaders to change their procedures to prevent other mistaken lethal strikes.

Forensic experts work the scene at a community hall where Saudi-led calition warplanes struck a funeral gathering in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, Oct. 9, 2016.

Forensic experts work the scene at a community hall where Saudi-led calition warplanes struck a funeral gathering in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, Oct. 9, 2016.

Initial denials

"Coalition forces must immediately review their rules of engagement and update their procedures to ensure adherence in the future," the team said.

Bombs hit a funeral hall where mourners marked the death of the father of a prominent Houthi rebel official. Reports and video from the scene showed widespread destruction and rescuers collecting body parts scattered through the ruins of the wrecked facility.

Saudi coalition officials initially denied any role in the bombing, but later announced an investigation of what they described as a "regrettable and painful" attack.

Yemeni officials said the dead and wounded included military and security personnel from the Shi'ite Houthi rebel group seeking to oust the internationally recognized, Saudi-backed government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

The Saudi-led coalition of regional Sunni governments has been attacking Houthis in Yemen in support of President Hadi since March of 2015. A U.N. report says the coalition airstrikes have killed nearly 4,000 people.

Houthi rebels, alleging years of discrimination by the Yemeni government, launched a rebellion in 2014 aimed at wresting power from President Hadi. Since then, more than 10,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed.

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