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Dozens dead after air strikes hit hotel in Yemen

The Saudi-led coalition has carried out several air strikes in Yemen, hitting a small hotel near the capital of Sanaa and killing dozens of people, Yemeni officials and witnesses said.

There were conflicting reports on the victims, with doctors saying they were farmers and officials and witnesses saying they included Houthi rebels.

The fighter jets targeted a two-storey hotel in the Qaa al-Qaidhi district, located in the town of Arhab, about 35 kilometres (22 miles) north of Sanaa, officials said.

The building sustained extensive damage and bodies were still being retrieved from under the rubble, witnesses said later on Wednesday.

Another air strike hit a checkpoint manned by the Houthis, a few kilometres from the hotel, they added.

Footage of the area aired on al-Masirah TV, a Houthi-run satellite news network, showed bodies hanging out of a simple building.

Bystanders wrapped mangled corpses into blankets to try to carry them away.

The TV network said 41 civilians were killed and that the death toll was expected to rise further.

Officials and witnesses told The Associated Press that the death toll had reached 60 and that the majority of those killed were Houthi rebels.

Physician Ali al-Rakmi, who was helping at the site of the hotel strike, said there were more than 100 people inside at the time of the attack, all farmers who work in growing qat.

The plant's leaves are chewed for a stimulant effect, a widespread tradition among Yemeni men.

Mr al-Rakmi said they had retrieved 35 bodies so far.

Fahd Marhab, head of the Umrah hospital about 10 kilometres (six miles) from the site of the air strike, said there were no wounded and that all the people in the hotel were killed in the air strike. He also said that they were mostly farmers.

It was not possible to reconcile the discrepancies in the accounts and the different number of fatalities reported by the officials and the TV.

There was no immediate comment from the coalition.

The Saudi-led coalition has been waging an extensive air campaign against the Houthis and forces loyal to ousted Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh since March 2015, seeking to push the rebels from lands they captured, including Sanaa, and restore the internationally recognised government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

However, the air strikes have also hit civilian targets, such as schools, hospitals, and markets, killing thousands and prompting rights groups to accuse the Saudi-led coalition of committing war crimes.

Activists have also called upon Western countries, including the United States and Britain, to cease military support for the coalition.

Yemen's conflict began after the Houthis swept into Sanaa in 2014 and overthrew Mr Hadi's government, forcing it to relocate to the southern port city of Aden and prompting Mr Hadi to seek military support from Arab Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia.

The conflict has so far killed over 10,000 civilians, displaced three million people and pushed the impoverished nation to the brink of famine.


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