In northern Yemen, an airstrike hit a camp for displaced families and reportedly killed dozens of civilians. A senior security official in the area said that Saudi jets seeking out groups of Houthi fighters in the region apparently missed their targets and hit the Al-Mazraq displaced-persons camp. The bombing is believed to have caused at least 31 deaths. If confirmed, it would make this incidence the deadliest single episode involving civilians since Saudi Arabia started its military campaign in Yemen last week.
Houthi fighters have seized control of much of Yemen over the last seven months. The Houthis practice a strain of Shiite Islam and are supported by Iran. Saudi officials have claimed that their military offensive is an effort to restore the exiled government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power. Saudi Arabia has not commented on the Al-Mazraq bombing.
The Saudi-led Arab military coalition has ramped its attacks across Yemen over the past several days. In the capital, Sana, the coalition bombed multiple targets, including a missile depot in a military base on a mountain. Witnesses in Sana described the fireballs from Saudi airstrikes on the caches of missiles to reporters and images of the bombings were posted to Twitter as well as other social media forums. According to the witnesses, civilians in a nearby village could be seen fleeing from the explosions in terror.
The coalition is also restricting access into and out of the country by sea and air. A spokesman for the military coalition reported that naval forces were blocking access to prevent weapons and fighters from entering or leaving Yemen. Warships from coalition member Egypt have been shelling Houthi fighters to halt their progress into the southern port of Aden.
According to aid workers, there are growing concerns about the humanitarian emergency occurring in Yemen. Yemen is the region’s most impoverished country and is not well equipped to deal with the thousands of displaced persons in the country. The threat of a ground invasion by the Saudi-led coalition has increased fears of further destabilization in the region.