yemen airstrike conflict.jpg
Photograph: EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

At least 14 civilians were killed Tuesday in an airstrike by a Saudi-led coalition on the Yemeni capital Sana'a, a Health Ministry official told dpa.

The airstrikes were the first in weeks on the capital, which is held by the mainly Shiite Houthi rebel movement and troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

It came two days after peace talks in Kuwait between the rebels and the government of exiled President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi were suspended without progress.

"More than nine others were injured when the airstrike, launched by the Saudi-led coalition, targeted a factory producing food products in al-Nahda neighbourhood in Sana'a," the official in the Houthi-controlled ministry said.

Witnesses said the building was engulfed by fire as ambulances and rescue teams rushed to the scene.

In July, Human Rights Watch accused the coalition of targeting civilian factories and commercial institutions in Yemen.

The alliance intensified airstrikes against Houthi and pro-Saleh positions early Tuesday in Sana'a, after raids on several other areas Monday across Yemen.

Flights at Sana'a airport were suspended for 72 hours following the raids. Houthi spokesman Muhammad Abdalsalam on his Facebook page accused the coalition of blocking the return from the peace talks of the Houthi negotiating team, who were due to fly back to Sana'a via Muscat in neighbouring Oman.

UNICEF said Tuesday that at least 1,121 children have been killed and 1,650 have been injured since March 2015, noting that the counts were only what the agency had been able to verify - and the actual toll might be much higher.

The updated numbers come after a UN report found that 785 children were killed and 1,168 injured in 2015 in Yemen.

Yemen's conflict has intensified since March 2015, when the Iran-allied rebels advanced on the southern city of Aden, prompting Saudi Arabia and fellow Sunni allies to launch an air campaign in Yemen against the group.

Saudi Arabia fears that the rebels will give its regional rival, Shiite Iran, a strategic foothold on the Arabian Peninsula.

UN peace envoy Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed announced Saturday that peace talks in Kuwait City would be suspended for a month after failing to achieve progress.

The government delegation had signed off on a proposal by Ould Sheikh Ahmed that, according to leaks, called for the withdrawal of armed forces from cities held by the Houthis and the surrender of heavy weapons prior to a new phase of political negotiations.

The Houthis declined to sign the document, saying they wanted a substantive agreement on political and economic issues as well as security matters.

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