Wedding Party Death Toll Jumps to 131 as US-Backed Coalition Denies Wrongdoing
Many women and children among the dead in attack initially reported as a 'mistake'
Updated Sept. 29 8:30 AM EDT:
The death toll from the bombing of a Yemeni wedding party on Monday has jumped to 131 people, "making it one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in Yemen’s war," Reuters reports.
Initially reported as a "mistaken" air strike by the Saudi-led coalition, the U.S. backed group is now denying its role in the civilian tragedy as a coalition spokesperson "suggested local militias may have been responsible" for targeting the party, which included many women and children.
Saudi Arabia-led airstrikes "mistakenly" struck a wedding party in Yemen early Monday killing at least 38 people, many of which were women and children.
The U.S.-backed coalition was purportedly targeting Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, when it bombed a celebration in al-Wahga, a village near the strategic Strait of Bab al-Mandab. One senior government official declared the two airstrikes a "mistake."
According to the BBC, "First reports from the village said that 12 women, eight children and seven men had been killed, with dozens more wounded, when the air strike hit two tents during a wedding for a local man linked to the Houthi group."
And the Associated Press notes that the village in which the strikes took place "lies in the battered Taiz province, where civilians routinely fall victim to daily Saudi airstrikes as well as rebel mortar shells."
The United Nations estimates that roughly 4,900 people have been killed and more than 25,000 wounded in the six months since the Saudi-led bombing campaign began in March. Further, roughly 21 million of Yemen's population of 25 million have been impacted by the conflict.
The incident immediately drew references to the United States' December 2013 drone bombing of another wedding party in Yemen, which resulted in the death of 15 people. Among those who connected the two attacks, blogger Marcy Wheeler wrote on Twitter:
To be fair, the US would have a hard time calling out Saudi Arabia for killing a bunch of Yemenis at a wedding party. #DoAsISayNotAsIDo— emptywheel (@emptywheel) September 28, 2015