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MSF demands answers from Saudi-led coalition over Yemen strike

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Paris: Doctors Without Borders demanded answers from the Saudi-led coalition over the bombing of one of the medical charity’s hospitals in northern Yemen, rejecting Saudi Arabia’s denial of responsibility.

The hospital in the northern city of Saada was hit late Monday drawing condemnation from United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, who also fingered the coalition forces as responsible.

“The hospital was hit by coalition air strikes, for us that is without a shadow of a doubt,” said Isabelle Defourny, head of operations for the medical charity, known by its French acronym MSF, at a press conference in Paris yesterday.

“What we demand is that the coalition recognises that this bombing took place, explains what happened, and commits to helping with the deployment of humanitarian assistance,” she said.

“The attack took place Monday 26th between 2230 and 2330,” said Laurent Sury, head of MSF’s emergency response team, adding that “five or six strikes” hit the hospital completely destroying it.

“Luckily, there weren’t any casualties,” he said, explaining that the hospital did not have any patients that night and the staff were able to get out in time.

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday denied that the coalition, which launched an air campaign against Iran-backed Huthis and their allies in late March, were behind the attack in the rebel stronghold Saada.

The Saudi mission to the United Nations said in a statement that “the Arab coalition aircrafts did not attack the hospital” and were not in Saada at the time.

“There have been two contradictory statements by the Saudi ambassador to the UN,” said Mego Terzian, president of MSF France.

“First he announced that the strike was probably a mistake and that MSF had given incorrect GPS coordinates. And on October 29, the same ambassador denied any strikes in Saada division,” he said.

“At the moment we favour direct negotiations with those responsible, therefore the coalition, to clarify what happened,” said Terzian.

“If the negotiations do not produce convincing results, then we will probably take radical steps and withdraw from some areas, or even in the country as a whole,” he warned.

Earlier this month at least 30 people were killed in a US bombing of an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, after the Taliban briefly captured the city.