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Airstrike kills more than 20 at Yemen wedding

April 23 (UPI) — An airstrike on a wedding party in northern Yemen killed at least 20 people, including the bride, Houthi rebels said, blaming the Saudi-led coalition that supports the Yemeni government.

The attack late Sunday left dozens of people injured, including at least 17 children in the village of al-Raqa, Hajjah province, about 55 miles northwest of the capital of Sanaa. Yemeni photographer Eissa al-Rajihi told The New York Times he visited a hospital where some of the victims were treated and observed children missing limbs and eyes. He said the groom had shrapnel injuries.

“He was speechless and appeared in a bad psychological state as some of his relatives had been killed,” Rajhi said.

Health ministry spokesman Abdel-Hakim al-Kahlan said emergency officials were initially unable to reach the site of the bombing because warplanes continued to fly over the region. The location of the village is also remote and difficult to access.

Houthi rebels said the Saudi-led coalition, which supports the Yemeni government of President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi, was to blame for the attack.

“We take this report very seriously and it will be fully investigated as all reports of this nature are,” a spokesman for the coalition said, according to The Independent.

Houthi rebels, who represent the country’s Zaidi Shiite Muslim minority, have fought the Yemeni government periodically since 2004. The conflict exploded in 2014 and 2015, though when rebels, along with supporters of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, entered the capital of Sanaa and forced Hadi to flee to the port city of Aden.

A coalition of eight Arab countries — mostly Sunni Muslims — took up the fight to restore Hadi to power. The United States, Britain and France also support the coalition.

Infighting has plagued both sides of the conflict in recent months. The Houthis split from Saleh and killed him in an attack on his home in December. Clashes among Hadi loyalists in January killed at least 12 people in Aden.

The Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV network on Monday reported Houthi political leader Saleh al-Sammad died Thursday during Saudi-led airstrikes on Hodeidah province.

Rebel leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi said al-Sammad’s death “will not go unanswered.”

The Houthis selected Mahdi al-Mashat to be the new political leader.

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