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More than 40 refugees killed in helicopter attack on boat in Yemen while trying to fl
#1
UN says it is ‘appalled’ by massacre as worsening conflict forces people to flee
[Image: yemen-refugee-boat-attack.jpg]
People carry the body of a Somali refugee, killed in attack by a helicopter while travelling in a vessel off Yemen, at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen, 17 March Reuters

More than 40 Somali refugees have been killed in an attack on a boat off the coast of Yemen while attempting to flee the country’s brutal civil war.



Coastguard authorities in the Houthi rebel stronghold of Hodeida said a helicopter gunship attacked the vessel they were travelling on in the Red Sea.



A Yemeni people smuggler who survived the attack said the boat had set sail overnight, aiming to cross to Sudan.


Al-Hassan Ghaleb Mohammed said women and children were among his passengers from the port of Ras Arra, along the southern coastline in Yemen’s Hodeida province. 
[Image: yemen-refugee-boats.jpg]
African migrants on a boat in the southern port city of Aden on 26 September 2016, before being deported to Somalia (Getty)

He told the Associated Press that their boat had reached around 30 miles from shore when the helicopter gunship approached and opened fire, sparking panic on board. 
Migrants finally managed to hold up torches to show they were civilians, when he said the helicopter stopped firing. 

Photos that were too graphic to publish showed the bodies of women and men in civilian clothes lying on top of one another in the partially destroyed boat, their belongings splattered with blood. Children were believed to be among the dead.



Mohamed al-Alay, a coastguard official, told Reuters the refugees, carrying official UN documents, were attacked by an Apache helicopter near the Bab-el-Mandeb strait.



Houthi rebels accused the Saudi-led air coalition of carrying out the attack, following heavy bombardment in the area, where it accuses Shia fighters of smuggling weapons into Hodeida in small boats.



The International Organisation for Migration said at least 42 people had been killed and dozens injured on the boat, which had about 140 people on board. The survivors – 75 men and 15 women – were taken to detention centres.


The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said it was “deeply distressed” by the casualties and called for all parties in the Yemeni civil war to protect civilians in accordance with international law.
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