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31 Somali refugees killed in helicopter attack off Yemen coast

Boat carrying refugees was travelling to Sudan when it was hit by airstrike from Apache helicopter, coastguard says

Thirty-one Somali refugees were killed off the coast of Yemen when a helicopter attacked the boat they were travelling in, a coastguard in the Houthi-controlled Hudaydah area has said.

Mohamed al-Alay said the refugees, carrying official documents, from the UN high commissioner for refugees, were on their way from Yemen to Sudan when they were attacked late on Thursday by an Apache helicopter near the Bab el-Mandeb strait.

A sailor who had been operating the boat, Ibrahim Ali Zeyad, said 80 refugees were rescued after the incident.

It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack.

Hudaydah is controlled by Iran-allied Houthi fighters who in 2014 overran Yemen’s capital Sana’a and forced the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee into exile.

A Saudi-led coalition was formed in 2015 to fight the Houthis and troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who have fired missiles into neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The Bab el-Mandeb is a strategic waterway at the foot of the Red Sea through which nearly 4 million barrels of oil are shipped daily to Europe, the United States and Asia.

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