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Toll from Saudi raids on Yemen market hits 119: UN

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Yemenis check the rubble of buildings destroyed in an airstrike by Saudi Arabia on February 25, 2016 in the capital Sana'a. (AFP Photo)

A senior UN official says the death toll from recent Saudi airstrikes on a crowded market in the Yemeni province of Hajjah has risen to nearly 120.

Meritxell Relano, deputy representative for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Yemen, on Thursday put the number of people killed in the Tuesday's air attacks on the northern province at 119. 

The strikes took place in the northwest of the Yemeni capital Sana'a after two Saudi airstrikes hit al-Khamees market in the district of Mustaba on March 15. 

The UN sources say the victims include at least 20 children. Many other Yemenis were injured in the deadly aerial raids in the troubled region.

The UN children’s agency in a statement strongly denounced the deadly airstrikes. 

Meritxell Relano, UNICEF's deputy representative in Yemen (photo by AFP)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also on Wednesday described the Saudi aerial raids as "one of the deadliest “ since Riyadh launched a military campaign against the impoverished Arab country in March last year. The UN chief also demanded a probe into the deadly incident.

The world body has already warned of a "human catastrophe unfolding in Yemen."

Meanwhile, General Ahmed al-Asiri, a Saudi military spokesman, said on Thursday that Riyadh will scale down combat operations in Yemen in an apparent bid to divert mounting criticism of the military aggression.

However, al-Asiri stressed that the kingdom will continue to provide air support to Yemen’s former regime loyalists battling Houthi Ansarullah fighters and allied army units on the ground.

Riyadh has been under fire by international organizations and rights groups over the rising number of civilian casualties in Yemen.

The Saudi military strikes were launched in a failed effort to undermine the popular Ansarullah movement and bring the former fugitive president back to power.

At least 8,400 people, among them 2,236 children, have been killed so far and 16,015 others have sustained injuries.

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