Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Four dead as projectile hits Yemen hospital

Published:Monday | January 11, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Men gather at the site of a house destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, Friday, January 8, 2016.

A projectile hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Yemen yesterday, killing at least four people and injuring 10, the medical-aid group said, the latest in a string of deadly incidents at its facilities in the country.

Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF, said Sunday that the hospital in Razeh, a district of Yemen's Saada province, was hit at about 9:20 a.m. local time.

The explosion destroyed several buildings in the complex, the group said in a statement, adding that casualties could rise if people are trapped in the rubble.

Doctors Without Borders couldn't confirm the origin of the attack but said planes were seen flying over the facility at the time.

A Saudi-led military coalition has been conducting airstrikes in Yemen since March, aiming to unseat Houthi rebels who are backed politically by Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival. Saada province is a Houthi stronghold.

"We strongly condemn this incident that confirms a worrying pattern of attacks to essential medical services and express our strongest outrage as this will leave a very fragile population without health care for weeks," said Raquel Ayora, a director of operations at Doctors Without Borders.

The Saudi-led coalition couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Yesterday's strike was the third time a facility supported by Doctors Without Borders in Yemen has been hit since the conflict began.

Doctors Without Borders said Saudi coalition strikes hit a different hospital in Saada province on October 27. Saudi Arabia denied responsibility, saying in a letter to the United Nations that coalition planes weren't in the area.

The group said another strike on December 3 hit a health center in the southern city of Taiz, where fighting between coalition-aligned forces and Houthi militants has been severe.

Sunday's strike continued a deadly four-month period for Doctors Without Borders world-wide. An errant US strike on a Doctors Without Borders trauma center on October 3 in Afghanistan killed at least 42 people.

Doctors Without Borders staff had been working at the Yemen hospital hit on Sunday since November, the group said. Staff and patients were evacuated to another hospital in Saada province that Doctors Without Borders is supporting.

The Saudi coalition had been informed regularly of the facility's GPS coordinates, Doctors Without Borders said.