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Airstrikes hit presidency building in Yemen, killing 6

Airstrikes hit presidency building in Yemen, killing 6
Yemenis inspect the site of an airstrike that hit the presidency building in Sana, Yemen, on May 7. (Yahya Arhab / EPA / Shutterstock)

Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen's Shiite rebels targeted the presidency building in the heart of the Yemeni capital on Monday, leaving at least six people dead and 30 wounded, according to health officials.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media about the attack, said the six killed were all civilians. It was not known if there were any Houthi rebel leaders inside the presidency building at the time of the airstrikes in Sana, and if there were any casualties among them.

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The three-floor presidency building was flattened and surrounding buildings in the city's busy Tahrir district — including a famous five-star hotel — were heavily damaged. Cars were charred and pools of blood covered the pavement.

Many were believed to have been buried under the rubble.

Ambulances rushed to the area to retrieve the casualties.

The Saudi-led coalition has been at war with the Houthis since 2015 in an effort to restore the country's internationally recognized government to power. The war has killed more than 10,000 people and driven 3 million from their homes.

Last month, the coalition killed a top Houthi leader, Salah Sammad in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida. Sammad was also the acting president of the territory under rebel control while the Houthis' leader, Abdel-Malek Houthi, has mostly kept out of the public eye, addressing Yemenis only in occasional newscasts on rebel-run outlets.

Monday's airstrikes appeared to have targeted Sammad's successor, Mahdi Mashat.

Witnesses described a scene of devastation. One resident said he saw bodies blown up before his eyes, a body thrown by the force of the blast against a shop and a car washer killed by shrapnel. The eyewitnesses spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals.

Windows of surrounding houses were shattered while the nearby Sheba Hotel had windows and its entrance door blown out. Security forces cordoned off the area and forced journalists away.

The sprawling presidency compound consists of several buildings, walled off from the rest of the Tahrir district.

Images on social media in the aftermath of the strikes show bloodied faces of the wounded and columns of smoke rising over Sana.

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