The raid on a refugees boat that killed 42 people off Yemen in March was certainly led by the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia, according to a confidential UN report on Wednesday.
A helicopter had opened fire on the craft containing 140 people, resulting in 42 deaths and 34 wounded, in violation of international humanitarian law, according to the report.
“This civilian craft was surely attacked by an armed helicopter using 7.62mm caliber ammunition,” said the report, presented by UN experts to the Security Council this week.
“The Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia is the only force involved in this conflict that has the possibility of deploying combat helicopters in this area,” the document said.
The helicopter operated safely from a ship.
“The coalition has not opened fire in this area,” his spokesman, General Ahmed Assiri told AFP.
Two other attacks by helicopters or warships against fishing vessels on 15 and 16 March also left 11 dead and 8 injured, the report said.
The war in Yemen opposes Saudi-backed pro-government forces to Houthis rebels, backed by Iran and allied with army units that remained loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Civilians accounted for more than half of the 8,000 deaths of the conflict since the Arab intervention, according to the UN.
Yemen is also experiencing an extreme humanitarian crisis: over 60 per cent of the population is threatened by famine, while the country is affected by a cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 1,900 people and sustained around 400,000 cases.