Sunday, 17 February, 2019

42 killed in Yemen migrant boat attack

Published on: 9:30 am - Saturday | March 18, 2017

Forty-two people have been killed when a boat carrying Somali refugees off the coast of Yemen was fired at from a helicopter, the International Organisation for Migration says.


According to survivor reports the boat was packed with Somali migrants trying to flee Yemen and cross the Red Sea to get to Sudan in Africa when it came under heavy gunfire at around 3 am on Friday.


Among the dead on the boat were Somali refugees carrying identity documents issued by UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency.


About 80 survivors were rescued and taken to hospital, according to the IOM. It is also not known where the boat was travelling to and from.


Women and children were among those killed when the vessel was hit near the Bab al-Mandeb strait, the IOM said.


Video of the aftermath showed dozens of slain migrants, along with others who suffered gunshot wounds, lost limbs, or had broken arms and legs.


It remains unclear who carried out the attack.

A Yemeni trafficker who survived the attack told the Associated Press that the boat was fired at by a helicopter gunship and a military vessel. 

Saudi Arabia, which is leading a US-backed coalition in the war in Yemen, has US-built Apache helicopter gunships. The coalition, which in general controls Yemen’s airspace, has not commented on the incident.


A port official told AFP that dozens of Somalis who survived, as well as three Yemeni traffickers, were taken to the city’s prison.


Eric Christopher Wyss, of the International Committee of the Red Cross, described the scene at the port as “gruesome and heartbreaking”.


“I saw many men, women and children either killed or horribly wounded,” he said. “Survivors told us that many of the passengers were refugees from Somalia or Yemen, fleeing conflict.”


Somalia is also currently at risk of famine, according to the UN, with 2.9m facing food insecurity – following decades of civil war and a previous famine in 2011.

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