Beginning the night of July 24 lasting until dawn of July 25 2015, Saudi led coalition forces launched massive air raids on two residential compounds of a steam power plant, in the Yemeni port city of Mokha, Taiz governate. The compounds housed the plant workers and their families. Living in this residential city were 200 engineers and workers, and 600 citizens, as well as a number of displaced families.
At least 65 civilians were killed and many more were wounded, including women, 10 children and the elderly.
It is reported that after the arrival of a number of ambulances bombing returned again to target the paramedics, raising the number of victims, and then further raids were launched along the shoreline to target those people who were trying to flee.
WARNING, the videos below are EXTREMELY GRAPHIC and DISTRESSING. They are put here as evidence to support the call for an independent enquiry into war crimes and to call on the West to stop supplying arms to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi-led coalition airstrikes that killed at least 65 civilians, including 10 children, and wounded dozens in the Yemeni port city of Mokha on July 24, 2015, are an apparent war crime. Starting between 9:30 and 10 p.m., coalition airplanes repeatedly struck two residential compounds of the Mokha Steam Power Plant, which housed plant workers and their family members.
The failure of Saudi Arabia and other coalition members to investigate apparently unlawful airstrikes in Yemen demonstrates the need for the United Nations Human Rights Council to create a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of laws-of-war violations by the coalition, the Houthis, and other parties to the conflict, Human Rights Watch said.
“The Saudi-led coalition repeatedly bombed company housing with fatal results for several dozen civilians,” said Ole Solvang, senior emergencies researcher. “With no evident military target, this attack appears to be a war crime.”
Human Rights Watch visited the area of the attack a day-and-a-half later. Craters and building damage showed that six bombs had struck the plant’s main residential compound, which housed at least 200 families, according to the plant’s managers. One bomb had struck a separate compound for short-term workers about a kilometer north of the main compound, destroying the water tank for the compounds, and two bombs had struck the beach and an intersection nearby.
Bombs hit two apartment buildings directly, collapsing part of their roofs. Other bombs exploded between the buildings, including in the main courtyard, stripping the exterior walls off dozens of apartments, leaving only the load-bearing pillars standing.
Workers and residents at the compounds told Human Rights Watch that one or more aircraft dropped nine bombs in separate sorties in intervals of a few minutes. All of the bombs appeared intended for the compounds and not another objective.
Human Rights Watch saw no signs that either of the two residential compounds for the power plants were being used for military purposes. Over a dozen workers and residents said that there had been no Houthi or other military forces at the compounds. The power plant and the compound were built in 1986.
Early in the morning of July 25, a news ticker on Al-Arabiya TV, a Saudi-owned media outlet, reported that coalition forces had attacked a military air defense base in Mokha. Human Rights Watch identified a military facility about 800 meters southeast of the Mokha Steam Power Plant’s main compound, which plant workers said had been a military air defense base. The plant workers said that it had been empty for months, and Human Rights Watch saw no activity or personnel at the base from the outside, except for two guards.
Bagil Jafar Qasim, vice director general of the plant, provided Human Rights Watch with a list of 65 people killed in the attack, including 10 children. The list included two people still missing, whom Qasim believed were buried under the rubble and probably dead. Human Rights Watch visited three hospitals in Hodaida that had received 42 wounded from the attack. Several, including an 11-year-old girl, were in critical condition.
Wajida Ahmed Najid, 37, a resident in one of the compounds whose husband is a plant employee, said that when the first strike hit, she grabbed her children close and they huddled together hoping the danger would pass:
"After the third strike the entire building began to collapse on top of us. Then I knew we needed to leave because it was not safe to stay. I grabbed my girls and we started running in the direction of the beach, but as we were running pieces of metal were flying everywhere and one hit Malak, my 9-year-old daughter. Thank God she is going to be okay. While we were running I saw bodies, seven of them, just lying on the ground, in pieces."
A doctor at the hospital told Human Rights Watch that they had removed a metal fragment from Malak’s abdomen.
Khalil Abdullah Aidrus, 35, a nurse at the plant’s clinic, said that he rushed to al-Salam clinic in Mokha city when he heard news of the attack. There, he and other medics administered basic first aid, then sent the wounded on to hospitals in Hodaida. He said that within an hour of the airstrikes they had received at least 30 wounded and 8 bodies. At 1 a.m., he went to the main compound:
"As I walked through the gates I saw my friend, an engineer at the plant, Abdu Samid al-Subaie. He was lying on the ground, just outside his apartment. He had a deep gash to his waist and he was bleeding to death as his two children lay at his side screaming and crying. But it was hopeless. At the same time the airplanes were still buzzing above us. We could hear them for hours afterwards."
Loai Nabeel, 20, who works at a shop in the compound, said he rushed to his family’s apartment when the attack started. A second bomb hit the apartment before he got there, collapsing the roof. He found his mother and younger brother by the entrance and brought them to the beach before he went back to search for his sisters Hadeel, 12, and Taghreed, 17:
"It was dark. It took me 10 minutes to find Hadeel under the rubble. The bomb hit the roof of the room where she was sleeping and her head was seriously wounded. I found Taghreed in another room with minor injuries to her head. Hadeel is still in a coma."
Power plants that produce electricity used by the military are legitimate military targets. However, the harm incurred to the civilian population by an attack on a power plant can be enormous, making its destruction unlawfully disproportionate, as the long-term harm to civilians will be far greater than the immediate military gain.
The Mokha power plant, built in 1986, was not struck in the attack. Human Rights Watch found no sign that either of the two residential compounds for the power plants had been used for military purposes. More than a dozen workers and residents said that there had been no Houthi or other military forces at the compounds.
Early in the morning of July 25, a news ticker on Al-Arabiya TV, a Saudi-owned media outlet, reported that coalition forces had attacked a military air defense base in Mokha. The ticker was swiftly taken down and the story can no longer be found anywhere on Al-Arabiya’s website. Human Rights Watch identified a military facility about 800 meters (875 yards) southeast of the Mokha Steam Power Plant’s main compound, which plant workers said had been a military air defense base. The plant workers said that it had been empty for months, and Human Rights Watch saw no activity or personnel at the base from the outside, except for two guards.
STEAM POWER PLANT RESIDENTIAL COMPOUND, MOKHA, 24 JULY
Coalition forces bombed a residential compound housing workers of the Steam Power Plant and their families in the south-western port city of Mokha on 24 July at approximately 10pm, killing at least 63 civilians and injuring 50 others.
Amnesty International visited the site three days after the airstrike and interviewed 21 residents and plant workers at the site and in five hospitals in Mokha and Hodeida (on the north-western coast). One resident, Amal Sabri, described the incident as “something out of judgement day. Corpses and heads scattered, engulfed by fire and ashes”. According to residents and plant workers, at least six consecutive strikes pounded the housing compound, several targeting the compound cafeteria and maintenance equipment store. Eyewitnesses said that prior to the multiple strikes on the main residential compound an airstrike had targeted a small residential compound 700m to the north of the steam power plant also used to house plant workers.
Amnesty International delegates at the site found no evidence that the residential compounds were being used for any military purposes. According to scores of residents interviewed by Amnesty International, no Huthi fighters were present in the compound, which also housed several families displaced by the conflicts in Ta’iz, Aden and surrounding areas. The nearest military objective, an air force base, is located approximately 800m south east of the residential compounds. It is unclear whether it was also targeted.
55-year-old Qaed Mohamed Abdelqader al-Sabri, a technician at the plant who lost most of his family in the airstrike, told Amnesty International that they were celebrating the birth of his 10-day-old granddaughter when their home was bombed:
“We were all at home celebrating the birth of my granddaughter Alaa’, with neighbours and family. I was about to enter the house when suddenly the door came off as the whole house shook. It was like an earthquake. The first bomb hit the maintenance equipment store, the second bomb hit the cafeteria. There was a moment of silence, which I took advantage of to rescue my family. That is when the third bomb landed. The electricity had gone off, I tried to go inside the house to look for a torch and for my family. I was screaming for my daughters, I could hear others screaming in search of their families. But all I saw was my wife and daughters drowning in their blood. Only my daughters Lina (16) and Samar (26) survived as they had run away to the coast when the strikes happened. Three of my daughters, my wife, my daughter’s husband and my granddaughter Alaa’ were killed.”
Another resident, 24-year-old Alaa Abdeljaber Thabet, recounted the ordeal to Amnesty International:
“The residence streets were bustling, men and children were standing in front of the cafeteria playing billiards. Suddenly I saw a light in the sky, and then an explosion in the residential camp [700m north of the main residential camp] that shook our whole compound. Fear and alarm permeated the whole city… suddenly after two minutes, the first bomb hit our residency targeting the maintenance equipment store. I could hear the plane circling above. I fell down due to the pressure of the explosion. After two minutes I got up to go help move the women and children to the coast where it was safer. After four minutes, the second bomb fell on the cafeteria, around 20 meters away from the first strike on the store. That second strike killed the most… I walked amongst pools of blood and severed limbs, there were over 20 bodies. There were four more explosions after that, people trying to escape. I have still not come to terms with what happened that day until now. I can still see the bodies and the injured and I can hear the screaming all the time.”
Among those displaced by the conflict who were sheltering at the plant housing complex was Redha Mohamed Qaed, a father of six. His relative Abdu Naji al-Bu’dani, an engineer at the plant and a local resident told Amnesty International:
“Redha has come here with his family from Aden, to escape the fighting there. He had planned to go back to Aden the next day (as the Huthis had just been forced out of Aden). When the explosion happened he was sitting next to a window at his sister’s house. He hugged his wife and children to protect them and his back was ripped by shrapnel and he passed away on the spot.”
'NOWHERE SAFE FOR CIVILIANS'AIRSTRIKES AND GROUND ATTACKS IN YEMENIndex: MDE 31/2291/2015 Amnesty International August 2015
WARNING: the media below is graphic and distressing. It is placed here as evidence as war crimes to call for an independent investigation and to call on the international community to respect the Arms Treaty by stopping the supply of weapons to Saudi Arabic as they are clearly targeting civilians.
List of the dead as reported by HRW:Location: Mokha Steam Power Plant
|Abdullah Muhammad Moqbel Bazel||Male||Killed|
|Mazin Ahmed Hassan al-Mujib||Male||Killed|
|Moath Abdullah Ali Abdullah||Male||Killed|
|Ali Fazel al-Abti||Male||Killed|
|Aymen Abdul Karim Bashir||Male||Killed|
|Wasim Saif Ahmed Asad||Male||Killed|
|Amro Ahmed Ba Alawi||Male||Killed|
|Muhammad Muhammad Ali Aqlan||Male||Killed|
|Khaled Ahmed Muhammad Qasem al-Sabri||Male||Killed|
|Ahmed Khaled Muhammad Ahmed Ghamazi||Male||Killed|
|Muhammad Mabruk Ahmed (unclear)||Male||Killed|
|Ammar Abdul Wasea Andul Waham Ahmed||Male||Killed|
|Tawfiq Ahmed Said al-Athoori||Male||Killed|
|Amjad Abdul Karim Bashir||Male||Killed|
|Muhammad Abdu Hassan al-Sabi||Male||Killed|
|Ahmed Muhammad Abdu Hassan al-Sabi||Male||Killed|
|Osama Yusuf Abdul Razaq||Male||Killed|
|Othman Bajash Othman||Male||Killed|
|Ahmed Ali Saif al-Adoa||Male||Killed|
|Thabil Abd al-Rahman Omran Nabil Muhammad Said||Male||Killed|
|Abd al-Rahman Ghamdan Nabil Muhammad Said||Male||Killed|
|Aymen Muhammad Ahmed Noaman||Male||Killed|
|Osama Muhammad Abd al-Hassan al-Absi||Male||Killed|
|Eissa Muhammad Mahyub||Male||Killed|
|Abd al-Samad Abd al-Haq al-Sabai||Male||Killed|
|Hamza Abd al-Rahman Muhammad||Male||Killed|
|Nazar Muhammadd Abd al-Ghani al-Harmim||Male||Killed|
|Adib Abd al-Wahab al-Hakimi||Male||Killed|
|Eissa Muhammad Abd al-Rahim||Male||Killed|
|Muhammad Adnan Shalan||Male||Killed|
|Haytham Khaled Muhammad Said al-Sharji||Male||Killed|
|Shakib Muhammad Abd al-Wadud||Male||Killed|
|Yusuf Abd al-Razaq al-Hakimi||Male||Killed|
|unidentified family member||Male||Under 18||Killed|
|unidentified family member||Male||Killed|
|unidentified family member||Male||Killed|
|Sahira Shawqi Shaher al-Adabji||Female||Killed|
|Bint Ahmed al-Wasabi||Female||Killed|
|Amana Ahmad Mohsen||Female||Killed|
|Ala Absi Muhammad Mahyub||Female||Killed|
|Rasfa Muhammad Qayed||Female||Killed|
|Asma Muhammad Abd al-Hassan al-Absi||Female||Killed|
|Eman Qayed al-Sabri||Female||Killed|
|Doa Qayed al-Sabri||Female||Killed|
|Sahar Qayed Muhammad al-Sabri||Female||Killed|
|Nahla Muhammad Ahmed Noaman||Female||Killed|
|Noha Muhammad Ahmed Noaman||Female||Killed|
|Thoraya Adib Muhammad Taher||Female||Killed|
|Nedal Muhammad Abdu||Female||Under 18||Killed|
|Khaled Ahmed Qasem||Male||Under 18||Killed|
|Yasser Muhammad Saleh||Male||Under 18||Killed|
|Visiting child from Aden||n/a||Under 18||Killed|
|Sadeq Abdullah Saleh||Male||Killed|
|Wife of Sadeq Abdullah Saleh||Female||Killed|
|1st Child of Sadeq Abdullah Saleh||n/a||Under 18||Killed|
|2nd Child of Sadeq Abdullah Saleh||n/a||Under 18||Killed|
|3rd Child of Sadeq Abdullah Saleh||n/a||Under 18||Killed|
|4th Child of Sadeq Abdullah Saleh||n/a||Under 18||Killed|
|5th Child of Sadeq Abdullah Saleh||n/a||Under 18||Killed|
|Sameh Muhammad Ali Ahmad||Male||Wounded|
|Muhammad Najib Muhammad Abd al-Wadoud||Male||Wounded|
|Hadil Nabil Abdu Hassan||Female||Wounded|
|Malak Abdu Muhammad al-Azazi||Female||Wounded|
|Ali Abd al-Salam||Male||Wounded|
|Tamir Muhammad Hassan||Male||Wounded|
|Zakaria Najib Muhammad||Male||Wounded|
|Haifa Abd al-Samad Abd al-Khaliq||Female||Wounded|
|Gamila Ali Hizam||Female||Wounded|
|Gamil Qaid Thabit al-Subaihi||Male||Wounded|
|Muhammad Ali Tariq||Male||Wounded|
|Abd al-Wasia Abdullah al-Hakimi||Male||Wounded|
This is Mwatana's report of the incident: