Yemen Houthis admit responsibility April blast, compensate affected

Sana'a (Debriefer)
2019-05-28 | Since 4 Month

Sawan blast

اضغط هنا لقراءة الخبر بالعربية

The Houthi group has indirectly admitted responsibility for a blast that took place last April in the rebel-held Sana'a and claimed the lives of 15 children and injured more than 100 people, said local sources Tuesday.

The group has recently commenced paying compensations for families of the schoolchild victimswho were killed by the huge explosion at Houthi military warehouse in Sawan district, to the northeast of the Yemeni capital Sana'a, the sources added.

Last week, a Houthi-run 'damage remedy' committee visited Sawan and paid every family 1.7 million Yemeni rials (US$ 2,500), the sources quoted occupants of the residential quarter as saying, "in addition to the 150,000 rials paid at time by the group to each family as burial expenses."

Parents of schoolchild victims took the measure as an official confession by the Iranian-backed group of responsibility for the blast.

The Saudi-led coalition backing legitimate government in Yemen and Houthis had traded blames for the incident, with the latter ascribing it to a coalition airstrike and the former denying such claims and shifting the blamefor an explosion at a rebel-owned military workshop.

On the 9th of this May, the Human Rights Watch held Houthi group responsible for the death of 15 children following the depot blast.

A warehouse, held and used by Houthis to store explosive supplies near to homes and schools, was engulfed by flames and exploded on 7 April, leaving 15 children killed, said a joint statement by the HRW and the Yemeni Mwatana NGO.

The huge blast has also injured more than 100 children and adults in Sawan residential quarter, the statement added, noting that the two groups had not been able to determine the initiating cause for the fire.

Houthi decision to store explosives near to homes and schools, despite the expected risk to civilians, has left scores of children and adults killed and wounded, the statement read calling the rebels to stop concealing the reality and storing explosives in populated areas and to compensate the victims.

On 9 April, a student of an affected school in the nearby of the incident told Debriefer that flames were to blame for Sawanblast in Sana'a.

"Me and my colleagues, at the end of school day, heard high noise for people near the school," the 17-year schoolboy added on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

"I asked a classmate to get out the room to see what was happening, but he chose to stay and finish writing down the lesson," said the student of the first secondary grade at al-Ahqaf private school. "The people were crying as seeing smokes and flames getting out of one of the three warehouses in the nearby.

"From the middle of school building, I heard some low explosions, before the large blast pushed me down onto the floor."

He safely survived the incident, but his classmate had stayed at class to leave life following the blast.

The student said he heard no aircraft hovering before the blast over his school, based in the eastern district of Sawan, but "many airstrikes take place with people in the scene hearing no plane."

Other eyewitnesses said water-truck drivers in the nearby were asked by armed men to go fight the fire prior to the explosion and the arrival of the fire truck.

"We saw remains of shells and mines near the warehouse following the blast, and before Houthi forces imposed cordon around the scene," eyewitnesses living in Sawan told Debriefer.

The warring parties have traded blames for the incident that occurred in a residential quarter.

However, the student's account highly corroborates claims of the Saudi-led coalition, whose spokesman on Sunday said no airstrike was carried out that day on Sana'a, blaming the rebels for the explosion.

Yemen has been racked by an armed conflict that broke out after the Iranian-backed Houthis had ousted the internationally recognized government late in 2014.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a military coalition in Yemen since 26 March 2015, in support of forces loyal to President Hadi to retake areas controlled by Houthi group seen as proxy for Iran in the Arabian Peninsula country.

The conflict has left tens of thousands killed, hundreds of thousands injured, and 3 million displaced, triggering what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with most of the population in need for a type of humanitarian aid and immediate protection, including 14 million people risking famine and some 1.8 million children suffering malnutrition.

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