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Saudi-led coalition says Yemen civilians hit by mistake

Witnesses and medics in Sanaa said several children were among the 14 civilians who were killed in Friday's air strike
Rescuers search under the rubble of a house destroyed in an air strike in the residential Faj Attan district of the Yemeni capital Sanaa (AFP)

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 the 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.

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