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Former Yemeni president urges action against Saudi Arabia to avenge funeral air strike

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Sunday called for an impartial and independent probe into the raids, demanding the perpetrators face justice. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION Sanaa, Yemen Oct 09, 2016, 11.11 AM (IST)

Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, an ally of the Houthi rebels, called for an advance against Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Saleh spoke a day after an air strike on a funeral ceremony killed more than 140 people in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.

"I call upon all the sons of this nation ... to face this aggression with all their strength and you must proceed to the battlefronts," Saleh said in a televised speech, Reuters reported. "The defence ministry, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the interior ministry must put in place the necessary measures for battle readiness at the fronts on the (Saudi) border."

Houthi rebels had accused the Arab coalition of Saturday's attack that killed and wounded hundreds. The Saudi-led coalition denied any responsibility but promised an investigation into the incident.

"The coalition will immediately investigate this case along with Joint Incidents Assessment Team in Yemen and experts from the United States who participated in previous investigations," it said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, reported AFP.

"The coalition is also willing to provide the investigation team with any data and information related to its military operations today, at the incident`s location and the surrounding areas," it said. "The result of the investigation should be announced as soon as it's completed."

UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Sunday called for an impartial and independent probe into the raids, demanding the perpetrators face justice.

"The Secretary-General condemns the attack on an event hall," said a statement from Ban's office. "Any deliberate attack against civilians is utterly unacceptable."

The UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said aid workers were "shocked and outraged" by the attacks that hit a community hall in the capital Sanaa where mourners had gathered, AFP reported. He called for an immediate investigation and said the international community must exert pressure to ensure civilians are protected.

White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that the US has ' initiated an immediate review of our already significantly reduced support to the Saudi-led coalition and are prepared to adjust our support so as to better align with US principles, values and interests, including achieving an immediate and durable end to Yemen`s tragic conflict.'

Price called on all sides to implement an immediate ceasefire. "US security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank check," he stressed.

The rebel-controlled news site sabanews.net said that the coalition jets hit a building in southern Sana'a where hundreds were mourning the death of the father of an influential local official. Saturday’s strike was one of the deadliest attacks since the bombing campaign began in support of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The airstrikes have come in at a time when Saudi Arabia is under increasing international scrutiny over allegations of civilian deaths in its air raids.

(WION with inputs from agencies)

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