At least 4 dead in missile strike on MSF clinic in Yemen

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DUBAI (AFP) – Aid agency Doctors Without Borders condemned a missile strike on one of its clinics Sunday in northern Yemen, saying it had killed at least four people and wounded 10 others.

Three MSF staff members are among the wounded and two are in “critical condition”, the agency said in a statement, adding that toll could rise as several buildings have collapsed.

“The numbers of casualties could rise as there could still be people trapped in the rubble,” MSF added.

The missile struck the medical facility in the Razeh district of Saada province, the agency said.

All staff and patients were evacuated, with patients being transferred to another MSF-supported hospital in Saada, it said.

MSF could not specify whether the medical facility was hit in an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition or by a rocket fired from the ground.

MSF director of operations Raquel Ayora denounced the missile strike and repeated that the agency constantly shares the coordinates of its medical facilities with warring factions in Yemen.

“All warring parties are regularly informed of the GPS coordinates of the medical sites where MSF works,” said Ayora.

“There is no way that anyone with the capacity to carry out an airstrike or launch a rocket would not have known” that the hospital was a functioning health facility supported by MSF, Ayora said.

“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 healthcare for weeks,” said Ayora.”

“Once more it is civilians that bear the brunt of this war,” she added.

Saada is the heartland of the Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels that the coalition has been bombing since March in support of Yemen s beleaguered government.

MSF last month accused the coalition of bombing its clinic in Taez, southwest Yemen, wounding nine people including two agency staff.

The coalition said it would investigate that claim although it has repeatedly insisted that it does not attack civilians.

In October, air strikes hit another hospital run by MSF near Saada without causing deaths.

More than 5,800 people have been killed in Yemen since March, about half of them civilians, according to the United Nations.

The UN envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived Sunday in Sanaa in a bid to convince the rebels and their allies to attend a new round of peace talks.

Foreign Minister Abdel Malak al-Mekhlafi told AFP the talks, initially scheduled to start on January 14 had been postponed until January 20 or 23.

The government sat down with the rebels and their allies last month in Switzerland for six days of talks that ended with no major breakthrough.

Also on Sunday, Yemeni intelligence colonel Ali Saleh al-Nakhibi was shot dead by unknown gunmen in second city Aden, a security official said.

2016-01-11

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