World Media

More Than 40 Somali Refugees Die in Suspected Attack Off Yemen's Coast

Yemenis walk in the old city of the capital Sanaa

At least 31 Somali refugees are dead after the boat they were traveling in from Yemen to Sudan was attacked by what might have been a USA -made Apache helicopter.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said at a news conference in Geneva today that the vessel was hit near the Bab al-Mandeb strait in the Red Sea, and that they are unable to confirm if the attack had been carried out by an Apache helicopter gunship.

A Yemeni trafficker who survived the attack said the boat was filled with Somali refugees, including women and children, who were trying to reach Sudan from war-torn Yemen.

Witnesses said that huge fire and smokes were seen rising from the Kowfal military camp where the attack happened and many ambulances rushed to the area.

Hodeidah, on the Red Sea, is controlled by Iran-allied Houthi fighters who in 2014 overran Yemen's capital Sanaa and forced the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee into exile.

He said the IOM is in contact with the hospital, clinics, and the detention center to provide the necessary medical care the victims.

Saudi spokesperson General Ahmed al-Asseri justified the attack by claiming the area, Hudaida, is "illegally" under the control of the rebels.

The Saudi war on Yemen has killed thousands of civilians, and unleashed a humanitarian crisis in the improvised Middle Eastern country. He said the helicopter then stopped firing, but only after dozens had been killed.

Mohammed was not hurt in the attack.

Among the dead on the boat were Somali refugees carrying identity documents issued by the UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency said.

He added that they were aware of 80 survivors brought to hospitals in Hodeidah. Its report couldn't immediately be confirmed.

The coastal province has been under heavy airstrikes over the past two years since the coalition joined the conflict in support of the government. Despite a war that has cost more than 7,000 lives since March 2015 and brought the country to the brink of starvation, Yemen continues to attract people fleeing the horn of Africa.