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Air strike near Yemen capital kills five civilians

The air strike hit a checkpoint outside of Sanaa, destroying a taxi and killing two armed personnel
Man walks at a petrol station destroyed by a Saudi-led air strike on a nearby checkpoint of the armed Houthi movement near Sanaa (Reuters)

Warplanes attacked a checkpoint outside the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Wednesday, killing five civilians in a taxi and two armed personnel manning the site, witnesses said.

The bombing in the Masajed district about 10km west of Sanaa caused the car to careen into a nearby gas station, setting it ablaze and complicating rescue efforts, they said.

A Saudi-led military coalition has launched thousands of air strikes against the armed Houthi movement which controls Yemen's capital and much of Yemen's north.

The coalition made no immediate comment on the reported air strike.

'Technical mistake'

Last week, Saudi Arabia admitted responsibility for an air strike that killed 14 civilians in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, describing it as a "technical mistake".

A review of the strike investigators found "that a technical mistake was behind the accident," according to a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. 

Witnesses and medics in Sanaa said several children were among 14 people killed in Friday's air strike that toppled residential blocks in Sanaa, the latest in a wave of deadly raids blamed on the Saudi-led coalition.

Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki had told AFP that he would "review the information" about the strike.

On Saturday, he said in a statement that the coalition "regrets the collateral damage caused by this involuntary accident and offers its condolences to the families and relatives of the victims".

Friday's raid targeted Faj Attan, a residential neighbourhood in the south of the capital that has been controlled since 2014 by Houthi rebels.

The coalition on Saturday accused the rebels of "setting up a command and communications centre in the middle of this residential area to use civilians as human shields".

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday condemned the raid as "outrageous".

Rights group Amnesty International's Middle East research director, Lynn Maalouf, said the coalition "rained down bombs on civilians while they slept".

She called in a statement for the UN to take action against Saudi Arabia over the list of civilian facilities struck in air raids over the past two years.

The coalition entered Yemen's war in 2015 in support of the government against the Iran-backed rebels, who seized Sanaa the previous year after forming a fragile alliance with troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 8,400 civilians have been killed and 47,800 wounded since the Saudi-led alliance intervened in the Yemen conflict.