Arab Coalition Bombs Yemen’s Capital, Killing Dozens
SANA, Yemen — A Saudi-led military coalition bombarded government buildings and residential neighborhoods in Sana, the Yemeni capital, overnight on Saturday, killing more than two dozen people, officials and witnesses said, and destroying homes in Sana’s Old City, a Unesco World Heritage site.
The Saudi coalition, which includes nine other Arab nations and is supported by the United States, began fightingYemen’s Houthi rebels in March, two months after the Houthis drove the government from power and took control of Sana. Coalition warplanes have sharply intensified their bombing of Sana in recent weeks, leading analysts to speculate that the airstrikes are intended to ease the way for a coalition ground incursion of the capital.
The airstrikes hit the headquarters of the Interior Ministry and a military honor guard, killing at least 17 security and military personnel, according to government officials and witnesses. But several of the targets appeared to have no military value, witnesses said.
One set of airstrikes crushed a group of houses, killing at least 10 members of one family and destroying at least two other houses, all in the Old City, which has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years.
Other bombs struck an underpass, damaging a passing truck, as well as a four-story residential building.
The aerial campaign has helped coalition forces advance in parts of Yemen, but has been marked by a persistent
imprecision that has led to the deaths of more than a thousand civilians, according to human rights groups. The warplanes have bombed homes, markets, refugee camps and hospitals, but the coalition has consistently refused to acknowledge any culpability for the deaths.
Errant airstrikes have become so frequent that critics of the coalition say they are part of a deliberate policy intended to terrorize the population and turn public opinion against the Houthis.
On Friday, Unicef said that an airstrike in Dhamar, south of the capital, had destroyed a warehouse the agency used for water supplies, imperiling more than 11,000 people. Last week, the United Nations human rights chiefcalled for an independent inquiry into violations by the coalition, as well as by the Houthi rebels.
The bombing was the second major attack on the Old City since the start of the war in March. Around 11:30 p.m. on Friday, bombs destroyed the Ayni home, killing the family and damaging wells and several other homes in the area, according to Taha al-Maghribi, a neighbor. Mr. Maghribi said he had no idea why the family had been targeted: The father, Hifthallah al-Ayni, had no connection to either of the warring parties, he said, and the house was far from any military or security installation.
Near the site of another attack that wounded two people in a four-story building, Hisham Abu Oraig, a neighbor, said a nearby government building could have been the target. “But I don’t think so,” he added. “The bombs are precise. They just want to scare people off.”