Wedding Reception Horror: 131 Killed by Airstrike in Yemen

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By Reuters

SANAA, Yemen — The death toll from an airstrike on a wedding party in Yemen jumped to 131 on Tuesday, medics said as the attack on civilians also drew strong condemnation from the U.N. secretary-general.

A Saudi-led Arab coalition that has air supremacy over Yemen has strongly denied any role in the carnage. A coalition spokesman suggested that local militias may have fired the projectiles.

Residents said Monday that two missiles tore through tents in the Red Sea village of Al-Wahijah, where a local man affiliated with the Houthis was holding his wedding reception.

A medical source at a local hospital in Maqbana said Tuesday that the death toll from the attack had risen to 131, from 27 reported on Monday.

The Arab coalition began airstrikes in March in a bid to drive Iranian-allied Houthi forces out of wide swathes of the country seized since last year. The coalition also wants to reinstate President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon expressed his "deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims."

A spokesman for Ban added: "There is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen. Its continuation will only bring more human suffering and destruction ... Any intentional attack against civilians is considered a serious violation of international humanitarian law."

International rights groups have expressed alarm at the escalating number of civilian deaths in the Arabian Peninsula conflict — at least 2,355 out of more than 4,500 people killed from the end of March to Sept. 24, according to figures released by the U.N. Human Rights Office in Geneva on Tuesday.