The al-Amari family was asleep in their home in Yarim, a town some 80 miles south of the Yemeni capital, when the airstrike hit, killing six of them. It was March 31, nearly a week into the air offensive launched by Saudi Arabia against Houthi rebels in Yemen. At around 2:30 AM, a missile crashed into a gas tanker, witnesses said, turning the street into an inferno that lit up the night sky and burned residents alive.
“I saw horrific things,” said Mohamed Abdu Hameed al-Amari, at 32 the eldest of his siblings, and the family’s main provider. He was returning home from a late-night errand when the bomb hit.
His two brothers, their wives, his 5-year-old daughter, Hanan, and his one-and-a-half year-old niece, Emada, were all killed in the blaze.
“To see your brother, your daughter, your son burning in front of your eyes,” Mohamed said. “It was the blackest day in history.”
Photographs sent to The Nation show the burned corpses of the victims, some of them charred beyond recognition. One of Mohamed’s surviving sons is shown in the hospital with burns over 45 percent of his body, his face contorted with pain. Mohamed’s surviving brother is in far worse condition, with burns over 95 percent of his body. His torso is wrapped in gauze, his face disfigured and swollen.
“There is no hope, my family is completely destroyed, we have no more hope in life,” Mohamed said.
The charred remains of the building where six members of the al-Amari family were killed in their home. (Mohamed al-Amari)
Up to 13 others were killed in the attack. Among them are four from the al-Masary family and three from the al-Jabhy family, according to Mohamed. They all lived in the same building, its blackened facade shown in another photograph. Left with no home or belongings, Mohamed is staying with a former neighbor in his native village of al-Aghrab.
“They burn us and our possessions and our homes. They’ve turned us out on the streets,” Mohamed said. “All the factions in Yemen who participate in political affairs, they all bear the responsibility of our blood.… Saudi Arabia is the biggest devil; it holds the most responsibility.”
Bombings by the Saudi-led coalition have killed dozens of civilians since their offensive was launched two weeks ago against the Houthis, a militia that gained control of the capital and other parts of Yemen over the past eight months and is allied with fighters and armed units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The Saudi intervention exacerbated the internal conflict, with clashes erupting across the country. More than 560 people have been killed over the past two weeks, including over 70 children, according to the United Nations. The true toll is likely far higher, aid workers say.