SANAA (Reuters) - An air strike on a Scud missile base in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital Sanaa triggered a big explosion that killed 25 people and wounded almost 400 on Monday, state news agency Saba said.
Saudi Arabia has led an alliance of Sunni Arab countries in air strikes against the Iran-allied Shi‘ite Houthi group and army units loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
“Twenty-five citizens were killed and more than 398 were wounded, mostly women and children, according to a preliminary figure after the Saudi aggression’s bombing today,” said the agency, which is run by the Houthis.
The number could not be immediately verified, but medical sources told Reuters at least 15 people had been killed and scores wounded.
The blast hit the base on Faj Attan mountain beside the Hadda district, home to the presidential palace and many embassies, blowing out the windows of homes for kilometers around and sending a tall mushroom cloud into the air.
Resident Adel Mansour said it was the largest explosion in more than three weeks of bombing by the Saudi-led coalition.
“For the first time since the start of the bombing the windows of my house smashed,” Mansour said. “My children are terrified and one of my relatives fainted because of the force of the blast.”
The campaign has repeatedly targeted the Faj Attan facility along with other military bases and airports in Sanaa and throughout the country.
Iran summoned Saudi Arabia’s envoy to Tehran on Monday over the explosion near its embassy in Sanaa, Iranian state TV said.
The Shi‘ite Islamic Republic has repeatedly summoned the Sunni-ruled kingdom’s envoy over disputes arising from a conflict seen as a struggle for influence between the two regional powers.
Indonesia’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi told reporters in Jakarta his country condemned the air strike after two of the country’s diplomatic staff were wounded and its embassy was damaged.
The explosion also killed three workers at the headquarters of a television station, Yemen Today, owned by ex-president Saleh, employees told Reuters.
Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, Saudi spokesman for the campaign, told state news outlet SPA the operation had entered a “new phase”.
“The next phase will focus on the movements of militias, protection of civilians, and support the evacuation and relief,” he added, in an announcement that suggested over three weeks of pounding military bases across the country had run its course.
A Saudi border guard was killed and two troops wounded by gun and mortar fire from Yemen on Sunday evening, the kingdom’s interior ministry said.
Several members of Saudi Arabia’s forces have been killed in the campaign against the Houthis.
The movement’s leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said in a televised speech on Sunday that the group believed its northern neighbor sought to invade and occupy Yemen, but that his people had the right to resist “by any means”.
Reporting By Mohammed Ghobari in Cairo, Angus McDowall in Riyadh, Angie Teo in Jakarta and Sam Wilkin in Dubai; Writing by Noah Browning,; Editing by Dominic Evans and Ralph Boulton