Published: Sun, March 19, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Somali refugees on boat killed by helicopter gunship off Yemen coast

Somali refugees on boat killed by helicopter gunship off Yemen coast

Forty-two people have been killed when a boat carrying Somali refugees off the coast of Yemen was sacked at from a helicopter, the International Organisation for Migration says.

Ibrahim Ali Zeyad, a sailor who operated the boat, said on Friday 80 refugees were rescued after the incident.

Unconfirmed reports said an Apache helicopter was responsible for the attack, which happened late on Thursday. "I saw many men, women and children either killed or horribly wounded", ICRC's Eric Christopher Wyss said after arriving at the scene. The refugees were hit by light weapons fire in waters off rebel-held Hodeida, but the boat managed to dock in the city's port, an official there said.

The rebel-controlled Saba agency accused the Saudi-led coalition battling the rebels of attacking the refugees from the air but did not provide further details.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) confirmed "dozens of deaths and many dozens of survivors brought to hospitals".

The trafficker, Al-Hassan Ghaleb Mohammed, said the boat left from Ras Arra, along the southern coastline in Yemen's Hodeida province, and was near the Bab al-Mandab strait when the attack occurred.

In 2015, jets from the Saudi-led, US-backed coalition struck Yemen's Red Sea port of Hudaida, which led over a 100 Yemenis dead.

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"At present, ports of Yemen must remain open, including Hudaydah port, to allow for both commercial and humanitarian vessels to import much needed food and fuel to avert a starvation", Dujarric added.

"Coalition planes launched dozens of strikes on coastal areas of Hudaida, in support of advances by troops on the ground", a local source told the site, which is known to be opposed to the Houthi rebels.

"They are people who. tried to find security in Yemen but found the situation there becoming increasingly unsafe, with the conflict and the humanitarian crisis coming close to a starvation".

In January, a senior United Nations official said it is estimated that the death toll in the conflict has surpassed 10,000 people.

Al-Muallimy said the organization learned very late that the Somali refugees were travelling to Sudan, escaping the conflict here in Yemen.

"We are appalled by this attack on innocent civilians".

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