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UK-supplied planes 'attacked Yemen'

Tornado fighter-bombers supplied by the UK to Saudi Arabia are "extremely likely" to have been used in attacks on civilians in Yemen, human rights campaigners have said.

Amnesty International UK called for the Government to suspend all arms supplies to Saudi Arabia pending a full investigation.

The UK must ensure that any support it has provided for the jet fighters "did not facilitate violations of international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes, by the Saudi Arabian air force," it said.

Amnesty's report, Yemen: Cracking Down Under Pressure, found it was "extremely likely that the Saudi air force deployed UK-supplied Tornado fighter-bombers in the strikes" over northern Yemen in early November 2009.

But the reports "cannot be verified definitively", the charity said.

Oliver Sprague, Amnesty's arms programme director, said: "Our report points to the Saudis using UK-supplied and UK-maintained arms in secret attacks that have left scores of Yemeni civilians dead.

"The Government needs to announce a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of this, reporting the findings back to Parliament. Meanwhile all current and future UK supplies of arms to Saudi Arabia should be suspended pending the results of this investigation."

Amnesty said "months of attacks saw heavy aerial bombardments, including from Saudi Arabian forces" last year as the Yemeni authorities, under pressure to confront threats from al Qaida and Huthi Shia rebels, targeted Sa'dah in the north of the country.

"Amnesty has gained information pointing to hundreds - possibly thousands - of civilians being killed in the bombing," the charity said.

It added that in one attack on December 17, at least 41 people were killed, including 21 children and 14 women, when their settlement in al-Ma'jalah in the Abyan district was hit by missiles.

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