Middle East

Yemen crisis: Saudi Arabia air strikes kill 44 in Sanaa

Smoke rises from a Houthi-controlled military post following airstrikes carried by the Saudi-led coalition, in Sanaa, Yemen on 7 June 2015 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The headquarters of Yemen's armed forces were hit four times by the air strikes

Saudi-led air strikes have killed at least 44 people in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, rebels say.

The strikes targeted the headquarters of Yemen's armed forces - controlled by Houthi rebels - and injured more than 100 people, the rebel news agency said.

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia shot down a Scud missile fired by rebels.

UN-brokered peace talks are due to take place in Geneva on 14 June aimed at ending weeks of conflict which have killed more than 2,000 people.

The majority of those killed in Sunday's air strikes were soldiers who were at the headquarters to collect their pay cheques, Saba news agency said.

The compound was shaken by four explosions while several nearby homes in the central Tahrir district were also destroyed.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Saudi-led airstrikes have attempted to destroy Yemen's scud missiles

Since 26 March, Saudi Arabia has been targeting the Houthi rebels in a series of US-backed air strikes.

The rebels and their allies have responded with cross-border attacks against the kingdom.

But the rebels' use of a Scud missile was the first such deployment of a ballistic missile in the conflict.

It was intercepted by a Patriot missile battery near the kingdom's south-western city of Khamis Mushait, the state Saudi Press Agency said.

The city is home to the King Khalid air base, the largest facility in that part of Saudi Arabia.

Both the rebels and Yemen's government, which is operating from the Saudi capital Riyadh, have said they will attend the peace talks.

The Iran-backed Houthis overran the capital Sanaa last September and have gone on to seize most of the country.

They moved south in March, forcing President Hadi to flee the southern city of Aden for Saudi Arabia.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been described as "catastrophic" by the UN with 20 million civilians - 80% of the population - in need of aid.