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Yemen: Blasts hit event attended by Jalal al-Ruweishan

Funeral reception, attended by military and intelligence officials of Houthi led-government, targeted in Sanaa.

Funeral reception

Dozens of people have been killed or wounded in several explosions at a funeral reception in Sanaa, according to Houthi-controlled media sources.

Saba news agency, which is aligned with the Iran-allied Houthi group, accused an Arab coalition fighter jet of striking the grand hall of ceremonies on al-Khamseen Street in the Yemeni capital on Saturday afternoon.

Hakim al-Masmari, the editor of the Yemen Post, said that the venue was hit by four strikes.

"Initially two, then after the plane circled around, a further two. The planes were heard and seen in the skies by multiple people.

"At least 130 people have been killed and more than 300 injured. Senior intelligence and military officials were present, and Sanaa's mayor Abdul-Qader Hilal was confirmed killed," al-Masmari said.

MWC News has not yet been able to independently verify the death toll.

Saba cited a security source as saying that the coalition air strikes occurred as the funeral reception was under way for the father of Brigadier Jalal al-Ruweishan, interior minister in the self-proclaimed Houthi government.

The source said al-Ruweishan was present at the event. It is not clear whether he survived the attack.

The strikes caused a large fire at the grand hall, which was largely destroyed, said the Sabaa report.

Haykal Bafana, a Yemeni analyst based in Sanaa, said that four missiles were used in the attack.

"I watched the air strikes, which took place barely 1.5km from my house. They first used a normal missile that pierced the roof. The second was an incendiary missile, burning the whole inside of the hall.

"The third was a missile on first responders," Bafana added.

He also said that military officials in attendance were the possible targets.

"Ali Abdullah Saleh hardly ever attends funerals. I think Jalal al-Ruwaishan was the target. It was his father, Sheikh Ali's funeral."

Civil war 

The conflict between Yemen's government and the Houthi rebels escalated in 2015 with the intervention of an Arab coalition in support of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The UN says more than 6,700 people have been killed and more than three million displaced by fighting in Yemen since March 2015, when the coalition launched its campaign.

According to UNICEF, nearly three million people in Yemen are in need of immediate food supplies, while 1.5 million children suffer malnutrition, including 370,000 enduring very severe malnutrition that weakens their immune system.

Yemen has also been hit by a cholera outbreak, the United Nations has warned, saying it poses a further threat to children in the impoverished country. 

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