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Somali refugees killed near Bab al-Mandeb Strait

Attack on boat near the Bab al-Mandeb Strait leaves 31 people reportedly carrying official UNHCR documents dead.

Bab al-Mandeb Strait

At least 31 Somali refugees have been killed off the coast of Yemen after a helicopter attacked the boat they were travelling in, according to a local coastguard officer in the Houthi-controlled Hodeidah area.

Mohamed al-Alay told Reuters news agency that the refugees, carrying official UNHCR documents, were on their way from Yemen to Sudan when they were attacked late on Thursday by an Apache helicopter near the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

A sailor who had been operating the boat, Ibrahim Ali Zeyad, said 80 refugees were rescued after the incident.

It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack.

Hodeidah, on the Red Sea, is controlled by Iran-allied Houthi fighters who in 2014 overran Yemen's capital Sanaa and forced the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee into exile.

An Arab coalition was assembled by Saudi Arabia in 2015 to fight the Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who have fired missiles into neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The Bab al-Mandeb is a strategic waterway at the foot of the Red Sea through which nearly four million barrels of oil are shipped daily to Europe, the US and Asia.


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