Conflict Middle East

Saudi warplanes bomb Fun City in Yemen

Al Saleh mosque beside Fun City, an amusement park bombed on Feb. 11, 2016 (Facebook/Ween Al Enfigar Alaan)
Al Saleh mosque beside Fun City, an amusement park bombed on Feb. 11, 2016 (Facebook/Ween Al Enfigar Alaan)
Written by Malachy Browne

A popular amusement park in Yemen’s capital Sana’a is the latest civilian target in the Saudi-led bombing campaign on the beleaguered country. Lighting up the night sky Thursday, a series of airstrikes destroyed children’s rides, blew out windows in nearby homes, set buildings ablaze and damaged part of an adjacent school.

Above: Fire engulfs Fun City after Thursday’s bombing. Below: Part of Al-Dailami school damaged, Al-Saleh mosque in the distance, the damaged bowling alley, buildings destroyed by the strike. Source: WeenAlEnfigar community Facebook page.

Above: Nearby homes damaged in the attack. 

It is unlikely people were killed in the attack, Al-Omeisy said, after visiting the park in Sana’a Friday morning. Sources said people living nearby were injured.

Civilian areas regularly targeted

It is unclear why the Saudi-led coalition would target Fun City. No caches of weaponry were evident in the debris photographed. However, this is the latest bombing of a civilian area by the Saudi-led coalition, a practice described by a UN expert group as “widespread and systematic.”

Another civilian target was hit on Tuesday, Feb. 9 when two journalists and their three children were killed in a airstrike on their family home, situated in a residential area of Sana’a. Both journalists – 30-year old Suaad Hujaira and her husband, 37-year old Muneer Alhakami – worked for Yemen TV, a state-owned channel controlled by Houthi rebels.

 

The UN panel of experts on Yemen documented 119 sorties that violated international law, according to a leaked report obtained by Middle East Eye (video explainer above). The report attributes 60% of civilian deaths – almost 2,700 people – to Saudi-led airstrikes. This is consistent with evidence gathered by researchers on the ground in Yemen who interviewed dozens of eyewitnesses across the country since the bombing campaign began in March 2015. That evidence is illustrated in a StoryMap below by reported.ly.

 

 

The barbarity of one such attack was filmed by an eyewitness in Yemen in January 2016 (video below). The video shows people rescuing casualties of an airstrike near the northern city of Sadah when a second bomb strikes, killing bystanders and everyone inside an ambulance that had rushed to the scene. At least 26 people were killed and 48 injured in the series of airstrikes, as documented by Shuaib Almosawa in this piece for our sister publication, The Intercept.

Warning: Graphic images appear toward the end of this video.

 

The civilian fallout in Yemen, the illegal use of cluster bombs and breaches of international law by the Saudi-led coalition has brought pressure on the UK and US to cease exporting arms to Saudi Arabia. The UK has sold over $4 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia since it started bombing Yemen, the Campaign Against Arms Trade reports.  In November 2015, the US approved $1.29 billion in arms sales to Saudi. An exclusive investigation series by reported.ly also showed that Italy is exporting thousands of bombs to Saudi coalition members and found evidence of these bombs in Yemen.

About the author

Malachy Browne

Malachy was the founding Managing Editor and Europe Anchor of Reported.ly from 2015 until April 2016. Based in Ireland, he worked with the European team to report on international stories emerging through online communities and citizen networks. Malachy has reported on the Arab Spring, conflicts in Ivory Coast, Yemen, Syria and Ukraine, humanitarian crises from Somalia’s famine to Typhoon Haiyan, and social and civil rights movements. He has written about eyewitness media and citizen networks for Al Jazeera, Open Democracy and the European Journalism Centre.

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