Coalition rejects Houthi claim it is behind attack on refugee boat that left 42 dead

Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri. (SPA)
Updated 17 March 2017
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Coalition rejects Houthi claim it is behind attack on refugee boat that left 42 dead

JEDDAH/ADEN: A military vessel and a helicopter gunship Friday attacked a boat packed with Somali refugees off the coast of Yemen, killing at least 42 people, said Yemeni officials and a survivor who witnessed the attack.
Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, dismissed Houthi accusations that the coalition carried out the attack.
He told Arab News that the coalition forces had not been involved in fighting in Al-Hodeida where the attack took place. “There has been no firing by the coalition in this zone,” the spokesman said.
A Yemeni trafficker who survived the attack said the boat was filled with Somali refugees, including women and children, who were trying to reach Sudan from war-torn Yemen.
Al-Hassan Ghaleb Mohammed said the boat had left from Ras Arra, along the southern coastline in Al-Hodeida province, and was 50 km off the coast, near the Bab Al-Mandab Strait, when the military vessel and then the helicopter gunship opened fire.
He described a scene of panic in which the refugees held up flashlights, apparently to show that they were poor migrants. He said the helicopter then stopped firing, but only after dozens had been killed. Mohammed was unharmed in the attack.
A top official with the UN’s migration agency said 42 bodies have been recovered from the attack. Mohammed Abdiker, emergencies director at the International Organization for Migration in Geneva, said the attack at around 3 a.m. on Friday was “totally unacceptable” and that combatants should have checked who was aboard the boat “before firing on it.”
He said about 75 men and 15 women who survived the attack were taken to detention centers, and some bodies were laid in a fish market in Al-Hodeida because of a lack of space in mortuaries.
— with input from AFP, AP


Iran commemorates war with parade of tanks, missiles

Updated 56 min 43 sec ago

Iran commemorates war with parade of tanks, missiles

  • Saudi Arabia and the US have accused Iran of a Sept. 14 drone and missile attack on oil facilities

JEDDAH: As Saudi Arabia prepared to celebrate its National Day with entertainment events, firework displays and cultural events, Iran staged a military parade in Tehran on Sunday with tanks, missiles and armored vehicles.

President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian military leaders saluted as ranks of soldiers marched past them in tight unison, followed by an array of military hardware.

Among the weapons on display in the parade, held to mark the anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, was an upgraded warhead for the Khorramshahr ballistic missile, said to have a range of 2,000km, and the Kaman 12 drone with a range of 1,000km. Speedboats and warships were shown in video footage on state TV.

Saudi Arabia and the US have accused Iran of a Sept. 14 drone and missile attack on oil facilities in the east of the Kingdom. After the attack the Pentagon ordered US troops to reinforce Saudi air and missile defenses.

In a speech at Monday’s parade, Rouhani denounced the US presence. “Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region,” he said.

“If they’re sincere, then they should not make our region the site of an arms race.

“Their presence has always brought pain and misery ... the farther they keep themselves from our region and our nations, the more security there will be.”

The US aims to avoid war with Iran and the additional troops are for “deterrence and defense,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

“If that deterrence should continue to fail, I am also confident that President Trump would continue to take the actions that are necessary,” he said.