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More Than 30 Migrants Shot Dead in Boat off Yemen


The body of a Somali refugee is removed after an attack on a boat near Yemen, at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, March 17, 2017.

More than 30 people are reported dead after unknown assailants fired on a boat carrying migrants in the Red Sea, off the coast of Yemen.

The boat, believed to be carrying Somali refugees, came under fire late Thursday night near the port of Hudaydah on Yemen's west coast, according to Mohamed Abshir Gedi, the deputy Somali community chairperson in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

Gedi put the death toll at 32, with 27 wounded. “The injured people included a 25-year-old woman who lost her leg,” he told VOA's Somali service Friday.

It is not clear who opened fire on the boat. According to news agency reports, witnesses gave conflicting messages on whether the attack came from a helicopter or another vessel.

The Saudi-led coalition that is fighting Houthi forces in Yemen said it was not involved in any fighting Thursday in Hudaydah.

Gedi said the migrants were attempting to reach Sudan to escape the insecurity of war-torn Yemen. Yemen is home to a quarter-million Somali refugees who fled poverty and violence in their own country.

The United Nations refugee agency said it is “appalled” by the deaths and says it has teams on the ground in Yemen to help the survivors and the families of those killed.

“This tragic incident is the latest in which innocent civilians, including Yemenis, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, continue to suffer and disproportionately bear the brunt of the conflict in Yemen,” it said in a statement.