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Saudi border guard killed as HRW condemns use of cluster bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch has noted use of internationally proscribed cluster bombs by Saudi Arabia in a new report
Houthi fighters have seized on instability to take control of large parts of Yemen (AFP)

A Saudi Arabian border guard has been killed and seven wounded by shelling from Yemen, the latest casualties in the bloody conflict in the impoverished country.

Shells "from across the border with Yemen" struck a patrol on Saturday evening, according to the Saudi interior ministry, quoted by the Saudi Press Agency.

The shell landed in Jazan region's Harth municipality, the site of previous deaths from mortar fire. The ministry added that the border guard and army “dealt with the situation accordingly”.

So far, 31 people, military and civilian, have been killed in the border area since a Saudi-led coalition began air strikes against Houthi militias and forces loyal to president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen. Saleh left office in 2012, handing over authority to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who himself fled earlier this year to Saudi Arabia following seizure of power by the Houthis.

A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) has presented new evidence alleging that Saudi Arabia is using internationally banned cluster bombs in its bombing campaign against the Houthis.

Having visited hospitals in the country, HRW said it had identified the use of three types of the weapon, which have been internationally condemned for their inaccuracy and their high level of collateral damage.

"The Saudi-led coalition and other warring parties in Yemen need to recognise that using banned cluster munitions is very likely to harm civilians," said HRW's senior emergencies researcher Ole Solvang in a statement.

"These weapons can't distinguish military targets from civilians, and their unexploded submunitions threaten civilians, especially children, even long after the fighting," she added.

HRW said the bombs had wounded civilians - including a child - in strikes on Houthi strongholds in the north. Two of three people wounded in one attack from the air were likely civilians. HRW could not determine the source of ground-fired cluster bombs that had wounded four other civilians, including a child.

Saudi Arabia and the nine Arab members of the anti-Houthi coalition are not signatories of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibiting the use of cluster bombs.

According to the World Health Organisation, as many as 2,000 people have been killed and 8,000 wounded in the conflict in Yemen since March, hundreds of them women and children.
Saudi Arabia launched its campaign in the country with the intention of restoring President Hadi to power.

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