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HomeNewsboxAirstrike Kills Dozens of Somali Migrants Off Yemen’s Coast

Airstrike Kills Dozens of Somali Migrants Off Yemen’s Coast


Some of the Somali migrants who died, in the Red Sea port of Al Hudaydah, Yemen, on Friday.

Abduljabbar Zeyad/Reuters

SANA, Yemen — More than 30 Somali migrants in a vessel off Yemen were killed on Friday in what Yemeni security officials said was an airstrike by a Saudi-led military coalition.

Joel Millman, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration in Geneva, said that 31 Somali migrants had been killed and that 80 others were hospitalized. He could not confirm what had happened to the boat.

Security officials in the Red Sea port city of Al Hudaydah said that the boat had been struck before dawn on Friday and that it had taken hours to bring the migrants to the port. The officials said that 33 migrants had been killed, 29 wounded and 74 others detained after being brought to shore.

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It was unclear where the migrants had been heading. Some African migrants use the Red Sea to reach Egypt or Sudan, with hopes of continuing toward Europe. Others land in Yemen, despite years of war there, hoping to enter wealthier Persian Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia. But war in Yemen has made those trips more dangerous.

Two years ago, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of other Arab countries began an air campaign against Yemeni rebels, known as the Houthis, who seized the capital in October 2014, toppling the internationally recognized government. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the war, and rights organizations have accused the coalition of bombing civilian targets, and the rebels of shelling civilian neighborhoods.

The security officials said it was the Saudi-led coalition that attacked the migrant boat on Friday. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the news media. A spokesman for the coalition did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

More than a quarter of a million Somalis are registered as refugees in Yemen, a large share of the more than 880,000 around the world, according to the United Nations.

This was not the first time Somali refugees were killed during a Yemen conflict. In May 1994, during a brief civil war, hundreds of Somali refugees died when their camp was caught in crossfire.

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