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UN calls for accountability after Yemen funeral attack

"We must do everything possible to ensure the authors of these heinous attacks face justice," UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in Paris.


UN calls for accountability after Yemen funeral attack

Paris: The United Nations on Monday called for swift action to bring to justice the perpetrators of air strikes on a funeral ceremony in the Yemeni capital that killed more than 140 people.

Saturday`s strikes were blamed by the Shiite Huthi rebels who control Sanaa on a Saudi-led coalition which has battled them since March 2015.

"We must do everything possible to ensure the authors of these heinous attacks face justice," UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in Paris after talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

The envoy said the Saudi-led coalition must publish the results of its probe into the strikes, which also injured more than 525 people.

"We need to have the results of the investigation under way very quickly," he said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the air strikes on a funeral ceremony was a "heartless attack on civilians and an outrageous violation of international humanitarian law."

He said an independent body to probe rights violations in Yemen must be set up.

"There must be accountability for the appalling conduct of this entire war," Ban told reporters.

The attack was among the deadliest in Yemen since the Riyadh-led alliance launched its aerial campaign against Iran-backed Huthi rebels last year.

The coalition, which initially denied any involvement, said Sunday it would investigate the incident, after the US said it was reviewing support for the alliance.

"The coalition will immediately investigate this case along with... experts from the United States who participated in previous investigations," it said.

The alliance was already under intense international scrutiny over the alleged civilian death toll in its Yemen operations.

The Huthis swept into Sanaa in September 2014 and advanced across much of Yemen, prompting the coalition to intervene in support of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

More than 6,700 people -- almost two-thirds of them civilians -- have been killed and at least three million displaced the coalition launched military operations in Yemen, according to the United Nations.UN mediated peace talks between rebels and pro-government factions collapsed in August, and fighting has flared across much of the country since then.

The UN envoy has been trying to revive negotiations but analysts said the air strikes made the prospects for peace in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country more remote.

Chances of an immediate ceasefire -- as requested by the UN -- "almost certainly" died along with the funeral bombing," said April Longley Alley, a Yemen specialist at the International Crisis Group.

"And it will have longer term consequences for the potential to develop any sustainable peace plan."

The attack also risks embarrassing Washington, which said it had launched an "immediate review" of its support for the Arab coalition.

"US security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank cheque," White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said Sunday.

The US Navy said Monday that two missiles fired from rebel-held territory in Yemen fell short of a US warship patrolling the Red Sea coastline.

The USS Mason "detected two inbound missiles" within an hour of each other from around 7:00 pm (1600 GMT) on Sunday, said US Naval Forces Central Command spokeswoman Paula Dunn.

The destroyer had been "conducting routine operations in international waters" at the time.

"Both missiles impacted the water before reaching the ship," said Dunn, adding that "there were no injuries to our sailors and no damage to the ship".

Also on Monday, the Riyadh-led coalition accused the rebels of firing a ballistic missile towards the southwestern Saudi city of Taif, hundreds of kilometres (miles) from the Yemeni border.

Yemeni loyalist forces meanwhile said three pro-government fighters were killed overnight "by mistake" in an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition.

From Zee News

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