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Illegal cluster bombs leave dozens of Yemenis dead

25th Sep 2015
Illegal cluster bombs leave dozens of Yemenis dead

Oliver Boulton

Human Rights Watch have found evidence suggesting that a Saudi-led coalition have used cluster munition rockets, in at least seven separate attacks in Yemen’s north western governorate, Hajja.

Local residents told HRW that the attacks, carried out between late April and mid-July 2015, had killed 13 civilians, including 3 children and wounded 22.

HRW Senior Emergencies Researcher, Ole Solvang, said: ‘The loss of civilian life in Hajja shows why most countries have made the commitment never to use cluster munitions.”

The M26 cluster munition rockets are fired in volleys of six, and together release 3,864 M77 submunitions over an area of one kilometre, resulting in significant inaccuracy. Furthermore, according to US military testing, the M77 submunitions have a considerable failure rate of 23 percent.

An international treaty in 2008 banned the use of the cluster munitions, however neither Yemen nor Saudi Arabia signed.

Not only is the use of the rockets banned internationally, but according to HRW at least two of the attacks occurred in high civilian concentrated areas and so may have been unlawfully indiscriminate in violation of the laws of war.

The attacks are part of a military campaign by several Arab countries against Ansar Allah group [Houthi] in northern Yemen.

A coalition of nine Arab countries began the campaign against the armed group in March after Ansar Allah overthrew President Abu Mansur Hadi and took control of large parts of northern Yemen.

Saudi authorities are yet to respond to a letter written by HRW on August 18, requesting confirmation of their responsibility for the attacks.

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