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Yemen rebels hold mass funeral for victims of strikes

By AFP - Mar 14,2019 - Last updated at Mar 14,2019

SANAA — Yemeni rebels held a mass funeral on Thursday for civilians killed in strikes in a northern region caught in a battle between insurgents and local tribes.

The Houthi rebels' Saba news agency said 17 civilians, including women and children, were buried after the funeral in the capital Sanaa.

The United Nations has confirmed that 22 civilians, including 12 children, were killed in strikes on March 9 and 10 in the district of Kushar in Hajjah province, home to a branch of the powerful Hashed tribe. 

The UN did not say who was responsible, but the Houthis accused the Saudi-led military coalition fighting on the side of the government of carrying out the attack.

Parts of Hajjah province are controlled by government forces, while others, including Kushar, are in the hands of the Iran-aligned Houthis.

A tribal uprising erupted in recent weeks against the Houthis, triggering armed clashes and the displacement of thousands of civilians, according to the UN. 

The Hashed, the most powerful tribe in northern Yemen, had a tacit peace agreement with the rebels in 2014, when the Houthis staged a takeover of the Yemeni capital, eventually triggering the intervention of Saudi Arabia and its allies to bolster the embattled government. 

Tribal sources say the rebels moved in on tribal-held areas in Hajjah last month, prompting an armed pushback from the Hashed tribe.

Saudi Arabia and its military allies joined the Yemeni government's war against the Houthis in March 2015, triggering what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis. 

Some 10 million Yemenis are at risk of starvation, the UN says.

Around 10,000 people — mostly civilians — have been killed and more than 60,000 wounded since 2015, according to the World Health Organisation.

Rights groups say the real figure could be five times as high.

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