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UN Chief: Saudi Strike on Yemeni Funeral ‘Outrageous Violation’

  • Margaret Besheer

FILE - People stand at the site of an airstrike on a hall where a wake was being held in Sana'a, Yemen, Oct. 8, 2016.

FILE - People stand at the site of an airstrike on a hall where a wake was being held in Sana'a, Yemen, Oct. 8, 2016.

The United Nations secretary-general has called the Saudi-led aerial bombing Saturday of a Yemeni funeral "heartless" and "an outrageous violation" of international law.

"This was a community center known to all," Ban Ki-moon told reporters Monday. "It was crowded with families and children. Bombing people already mourning the loss of loved ones is reprehensible."

Saturday's attack killed more than 140 people and injured more than 500 others.

FILE - Forensic experts investigate the scene at the community hall where Saudi-led warplanes struck a funeral in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, Oct. 9, 2016.

FILE - Forensic experts investigate the scene at the community hall where Saudi-led warplanes struck a funeral in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, Oct. 9, 2016.

Ban said aerial attacks by the Saudi-led coalition already have caused enormous damage and destroyed hospitals and other vital civilian infrastructure. Initial reports indicate the bombing was carried out by the coalition.

"Excuses ring hollow given the pattern of violence throughout the country," Ban said. "Parties cannot hide behind the fog of this war."

The U.N. chief warned that a "man-made catastrophe is unfolding before our eyes" and said impunity is only compounding it.

He said that despite mounting crimes by all parties to the conflict, he has yet to see the results of any credible investigations.

"This latest horrific incident demands a full inquiry," Ban said. "More broadly, there must be accountability for the appalling conduct for this entire war."

He echoed his high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, who has repeatedly called for the urgent creation of an independent, international inquiry into alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Yemen.

Watch video report from VOA's Zlatica Hoke:

"I urge the Human Rights Council to fulfill its duty and act," Ban said of the body that should create the inquiry.

In August, the U.N. Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict included the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen on its blacklist of groups that kill and maim children and engage in attacks on schools and hospitals in war.

The Saudis protested their inclusion on the list, and Ban, bending to what he said was "undue pressure" and threats of de-funding of life-saving U.N. programs, agreed to take the coalition off the blacklist until a review could be completed. That review is ongoing.

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