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Human Services

Reports: Saudi-Led Air Strikes In Yemen Kills 20 Civilians, Six Rebels

At least 22 civilians have been killed and dozens wounded when a Saudi-led coalition air strike hit a market in western Yemen causing a fire to break out, a local official said.

Missiles launched by fighter jets of the coalition on March 10 hit a market selling qat -- a mild narcotic leaf which is popular among Yemenis -- near the Red Sea fishing town of Khoukha.

"All of those killed were civilians, none were holding weapons," said Hashim Azazi, deputy governor of Hodeidah province.

A coalition spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

Khoukha and the nearby city of Hodeidah are controlled by Iran-allied Houthi fighters who in 2014 overran Yemen's capital Sanaa and forced the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee into exile.

The Saudi-led coalition was formed in 2015 to fight the Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who have fired missiles into neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The fighting on Yemen's west coast has displaced nearly 50,000 people in the last months, among them children suffering from malnutrition, the UN refugee agency said in Geneva on March 10.

Nearly half of Yemen's 22 provinces are on the verge of famine, according to the UN World Food Program, as a result of the war, which has drawn in regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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