Aug 31, 11:00 AM EDT

Yemeni rebels: 16 civilians killed in Saudi-led airstrikes

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Yemeni rebels: 16 civilians killed in Saudi-led airstrikes

SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition hit a house in the northern city of Saada in the early hours of Wednesday, killing at least 16 civilians, Yemen's rebel-controlled state news agency reported.

The airstrikes were part of an ongoing air campaign led by Saudi Arabia that aims at dislodging Shiite rebels, known as the Houthis, from the Yemeni capital and northern regions of the country.

They came as security and medical officials in southern Yemen said that the death toll from Monday's suicide bombing by the Islamic State group in Aden had risen to 72, marking the deadliest attack on the southern city this year. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the press.

IS claimed responsibility for the Monday attack, in which a suicide bomber detonated his pick-up truck among a crowd of pro-government military recruits. The recruits were signing up to join a new unit that Saudi Arabia hopes will ultimately be made up of 5,000 fighters.

SABA news agency reported Wednesday that the overnight airstrikes targeted the district of al-Sahan in Saada, a Houthi stronghold. It said most of those killed were from three families, and that children were among the victims.

The agency said that rescue work had been hindered by fighter jets who continued to fly over the bomb site. It said the death toll is expected to rise, with more bodies being pulled from the rubble.

It was not immediately possible to verify the SABA report because of the difficultly establishing communications with the city of Saada.

The Saudi-led coalition began launching airstrikes in Yemen in March 2015. It is supporting the internationally-recognized government against the Houthis, who overran the Yemeni capital in 2014 and are allied with army units loyal to a former president.

The fighting has allowed al-Qaida and an IS affiliate to expand their reach, particularly in the country's south.

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