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Suspected Saudi-led air strike kills 13 at Yemen wedding

Update: October, 08/2015 - 15:35

SANAA — A suspected Saudi-led air strike killed at least 13 people at a wedding in a rebel-held town in Yemen, witnesses and the rebels said yesterday, even as UN peace efforts made headway.

There was no immediate comment from the Saudi-led coalition, which has come under mounting criticism from human rights groups for the civilian death toll from the bombing campaign it has waged against the rebels since March.

It was the second alleged coalition strike on a Yemeni wedding party in just over a week.

The new raid hit a house where dozens of people were celebrating the wedding yesterday evening in the town of Sanban, 100km south of the capital Sanaa, residents said.

"Coalition warplanes launched the attack. The house was completely destroyed," said witness and local resident Taha al-Zuba.

"Warplanes were heard in the area ahead of the attack."

The rebels' Al-Masirah television said on Twitter that the wedding was hit by "aggression warplanes", referring to the coalition.

Medical sources said 38 people were also wounded.

In September a suspected coalition strike killed at least 131 civilians at a wedding near the Red Sea city of Mokha, which the UN said may have been the deadliest hit since March. The coalition denied involvement.

The latest strike came as the United Nations announced that the rebels, who control the capital and much of central and northern Yemen, had accepted a UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to the seven-month conflict.

The rebels' refusal to agree to abide by the resolution passed in April – demanding their withdrawal from all the territory they have seized since they overran the capital in September last year – had stymied previous peace efforts.

Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled into exile in neighbouring Saudi Arabia in March but whose forces have since recaptured much of the south with the support of Saudi-led ground troops, had refused to join UN-brokered peace talks until the rebels signed up.

But UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced in New York late yesterday that both the rebels and their allies had confirmed they were willing to enter talks based on the UN resolution.

"This is an important step," he said.

The Shiite Huthi rebels, whose heartland is in the mountains of the far north, were only able to capture so much of the country because of the support of renegade troops still loyal to Hadi's ousted predecessor Ali Abullah Saleh.

Saleh's General People's Congress party too announced yesterday that it had accepted the UN peace plan following secret talks with UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed "believes that the government of Yemen, the Huthis and their allies should accept the invitation to join peace talks on this basis," Dujarric said yesterday. — AFP

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