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INVESTIGATIONS

Bombing targeted the Al-Ahli Club building in Taiz province

May 17, 2021

An investigation reveals the bombing that targeted the Al-Ahli Club building in Taiz province, on Dec 12, 2020

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Incident Summary

  • About the incident: Bombing that targeted the Al-Ahli Club building in Taiz province.
  • Site of the attack Fourth Point area, Cairo Directorate, Taiz city center, South-west of Yemen.
  • Date: December 12th, 2020.
  • Time of Attack: Between 06:00 - 06:20 Yemeni local time.
  • Casualties: 2 killed and 3 injured
  • Type of attack: Artillery shell
  • Potential ammunition: Tank shell type “He Frag OF -18”, 115 mm-caliber.
  • Potentially responsible: Forces affiliated with the Ansar Allah “Houthi” movement.

Introduction:

In December 2020 morning, Al-Ahli club in Taiz city center was targeted by an artillery shell that hit a building next to the pitch claiming the lives of two people, including a child, and wounding two other children who were in the pitch during a morning training. The incident went viral on social networking platforms and news websites amid exchanging accusations by the two parties of the conflict in the city prompting the Yemeni Archive team to analyze open source information to determine the party responsible for the bombing.

Background on the Al-Ahli Club:

Al-Ahli club is located in the Fourth Point area in Cairo Directorate, in the city center of Taiz governorate that is located in south-western Yemen. The club is surrounded by several medical and entertainment facilities, most notably Alamal Tumor Treatment Center that is associated with the Cancer Foundation. Al-Ahli club is 20 meters away from the main gate of the Tumor Center that had been targeted by gunfire from an average weapon fifty days before the bombing of the club.

The club is located some meters away from the Yemeni Swedish Hospital for Pediatrics and Maternity, a park, the Faculty of Letters of the University of Taiz, and the Police Directorate of the province making it a civilian busy area.

1 Satellite image from Google Earth, the site of Al-Ahli Club in Taiz governorate.

Al-Ahli Club is located under the control of the Yemeni Government forces. It is one kilometer away from the nearest clash point in the east of the city, where the forces of “Ansar Allah” the Houthi group are positioned in the other part of the city and the highlands overlooking it from the east and the north.

What Happened?

An artillery shell hit a building in the Al-Ahli Club in Taiz in the early morning of December 12th, 2020 meters away from pitch while the club-goers were getting ready for the morning training. The shell claimed the lives of a player and his son and injured three other children.

2 A photo from the account of “Fahed Mikhlafi Arhabi” on Facebook of Al-Ahli club after the bombing.

The bombing news has been circulated widely on social media platforms and news websites. The conflict parties in the city of Taiz as well as the ministries of Youth and Sports, affiliated with the Government and under the control of the Houthis, exchanged accusations and blamed each other the responsible for the attack. The Minister of Youth and Sports of the Government of Yemen “Nayef Bakri” wrote a post on his page on Facebook. He condemned the bombing and accused the Houthis of being responsible for the bombing. On the other hand, ”The Sports Sector in The Ministry of Youth and Sports”, Sana’a Branch, issued a statement deploring the bombing blaming the government forces.

3 A post about the incident from “Muhammad Mahyoub Ahmed Ali” on Facebook.

Time of the attack:

Analysis of the timestamps of the attack using the ”4webhelp” tool on the first report of the bombing in a post of Belqees Satellite channel on Facebook shows that the attack was at 9:25 am. A big number of reports were posted on social networking platforms and news sites after that.

Timestamp analysis using the “4webhelp” tool, indicates that the first reporting of the bombing via the “Razzaz Abdo Qasim” post on the Facebook platform was at 6:21 am. While there were reports, on social media platforms and news sites, about the bombing after that time.

4 A screenshot of Belqees channel posted on Facebook. And a timestamp analysis of the post using the ”4webhelp” tool.

However, most of the news published by “athletes”, and pages of official bodies, including the emergency room in the “Office of Health in Taiz Governorate”, as well as the statement of “Al-Ahli Sport and Cultural Club in Taiz” on the Facebook stated that the attack was at 6 am during a morning training.

5 A post on “Al-Ahli Sportand cultural Club in Taiz“ page on Facebook.

Visual content verification:

The site of the bombing was documented with pictures and videos hours after the incident. They were published by activists and satellite channels on Facebook and YouTube. Considering the content of the scene of activist “Fahed Arhabi Mikhlafi” and the videos of “Khaled Alkadi” in addition to “Suhail” and “Belqees” channels that contain identical evidence, we can verify the reliability of the visual content and its usability in the analysis.

Shots from the videos of “Fahed Mikhlafi Arhabi” , “Khaled Alkadi” , “Suhail” ,“Belqees”

Geolocation:

The Archive team visited the bombing site and documented the landmarks surrounding the club to enhance the visual evidence that appeared in the open-source content published after the bombing. This content was derived from videos of “Khaled Alkadi”, and “Suhail” , and “Belqees ” channels along with pictures from “Basher Sinan” on Facebook from three different directions.

In the western side, we have three buildings. The closest to the club is “Alamal Tumor Treatment Center” 20 meters away. In addition to two buildings that appeared in the videos of the two other channels “Suhail” and “Belqees” .

Shots from videos from ”Belqees” and “Suhail” channels that show the landmarks in the west of Al-Ahli Club

In the eastern and northern sides, the visual content shown on “Basher Sinan” account and shots taken by the Yemeni Archive team, and the video of “Khaled Alkadi”, that there are buildings close to Al-Ahli Club in addition to trees in the area. When we compared the visual evidence with satellite images of Google Earth, we found that they were identical.

A photo from the “Basher Sinan” account on the Facebook platform, a screenshot of the Yemeni Archive team, and a shot from the” Khaled Alkadi” video on YouTube. The buildings in the east and north.

A photo taken by the Yemeni Archive team taken from the roof of the building, which was shelled.

A satellite Image from Google Earth that shows the site of the Club and its surrounding landmarks.

When comparing the mountain that appeared in the photo of the Yemeni Archive team to the north of Al-Ahli Club with a satellite image (from the surface of the ground feature) of Google Earth, we can confirm the compatibility and so Al Ahli club site can be determine in coordinates 13.574570, 44.023184 .

11 A photo taken by the Yemeni Archive team from the roof of the building, which was shelled. It shows some of the mountains to the north of Al Ahli club. Image via satellite (from the surface of the ground feature) of Google Earth

The victims:

The artillery shelling on Al Ahli club killed a father and his son immediately after their bodies were torn apart by shrapnel. Three other children were wounded, according to the post of “The Office of Public Health and the Population In Taiz Governorate” on its Facebook page.

12 A photo from “Taiz Human Rights Center” of the father and his son -to the left- who were killed in the bombing. And a screenshot from the post of the “Office of Public Health and Population in Taiz Governorate” on Facebook.

The weapon that was used:

The Yemeni Archive team documented the bombing site and its impact. It obtained small pieces of the remnants of the projectile that hit Al-Ahli Club. They are parts of the metal fan blades and parts of the body on which it was mounted while it was launched.

13 Photos taken by the Yemeni Archive team from the bombing site for the remnants of the projectile.

The team found that the projectile relatively resembles the remnants of another projectile that landed on the campus of the Faculty of Letters, University of Taiz, two months before the bombing of Al-Ahli Club in a day in which the city witnessed heavy shelling since early morning, according to reports of the city inhabitants on social media platforms. The Faculty is approximately 200 meters away from the pitch to the south.

14 Photos documented and obtained by the Yemeni Archive team.

The remaining body of the projectile that landed on the Faculty of Letters bears code “EK-4M”. When we looked the code up in “Bullet picker” website, which is specialized in ammunition and explosives, it became clear that the code belongs to the Russian-made tanks shells 115 mm-caliber.

15 An image obtained by the Archive team, a shot from “Bullet picker” website which is specialized in ammunition and explosives.

The pieces found in Al-Ahli club differ slightly in the shape of iron fan blades in comparison with “BK-4M ” shells. However, they match “He Frag OF -18” shell 115 mm-caliber on “Bullet picker” website in terms of the size of the blade that fit into the body and the circular hole in the front.

16 A photo from the Yemeni Archive team and a screenshot of the “Bullet picker”.

Artillery shells 115 mm-caliber are fired from the ” Russian Made T 62” tanks which are among the arsenal of the Ground Forces at the Yemeni Army. Therefore, they were likely used in the bombing of Al Ahli Club.

The party responsible for the attack:

An analysis of the site of the projectile’s crash in a shot from the video of the investigation team, the horizontal track that penetrated the iron grids of the windows in a shot from a video of “Taiz Time“ that the bombing was by a tank in a horizontal track; it was not by a vertical shell (a mortar).

A shot from a video of the Yemeni Archive team, a shot from the video of “Taiz Time”

We draw a straight line depending on the tracks of the rubble on the ground in the videos of “Fahed Mikhlafi Arhabi” and “Belqees channel” that illustrate the ricochet after the shell hit a direction that was opposite to the landing direction with the same angle of declination. It was later marked on the satellite images of Google Earth that showed us a clear line of the path of the shell.

A shot from the video of “Fahed Mikhlafi Arhabi”, a shot from a video from Belqees channel, And a satellite image from Google Earth. The path of the projectile’s arrival.

The Yemeni Archive team took a photo from Al-Ahli Club building, where the shell landed in the same direction of arrival that showed us a series of mountains in the north of Taiz.

19 A photo from the Yemeni Archive team.

After simulating the angle of vision from Al-Ahli club’s view and the view of the shell launching site using “from the surface of the ground feature” of Google Earth, We acquired a clear, precise perception that the shelling was from the mountains behind 60 Street to the north of Taiz city from two potential sites. The coordinates of the first and most likely site are 13.607404, 44.027702 . And the coordinates of the second is 13.612150, 44.027896

Two pictures via satellite from Google Earth. Using the property display “from the surface of the ground feature” 1. From the view of the shell launching site (from the mountains towards Al Ahli Club site in the south) 2-From Al-Ahli view (from Al-Ahli Club to the mountains in the north)

21 The possible range of the arrival of the tank projectile in 4-6 km radius using the distance scale of Google Earth.

After analyzing the visual evidence, determining the path of the projectile, and comparing it to the satellite images of Google Earth, it becomes clear that it is not possible for the bombing of Al-Ahli club to have been fired from an area other than the northern mountains or north-eastern areas of the city because of the existence of obstacles in other sides that are buildings and heights in the club’s perimeter that would have prevented the arrival of a tank projectile in a straight path.

The northern areas of Taiz, specifically the street behind 60 Street including the mountains, are under the control of “Ansar Allah” the Houthis group as confirmed by the Website of “Ansar Allah” on the web in a bit of news it published on 27 October 2020, i.e. 45 days before the bombing. In the news, it outlined the progress of the parades of people celebrating the Prophet’s birthday towards Taiz Airport. It identified 60 Street as the path for people coming from the northern side. In addition to the project of opening 60 Street by the local authority early this year, according to a post on the page of The Media Office of Taiz Governorate” of the Houthis on Facebook, which favors the responsibility of the group for the attack.

22 A screenshot of the news site of “Ansar Allah” on the web.

CONCLUSION:

In light of the detailed information above, it becomes clear for the Yemeni Archive that at 6 am of 12 December 2020, Al-Ahli Club in Taiz city center, was bombed by artillery by a battle tank that belongs to “Ansar Allah” the Houthis group from the highlands it controls behind the 60 Street to the north of the city. The attack claimed the lives of a father and his son (9 years), and injured three other children during a morning training session at the club’s pitch.

Weapon analysis indicates that the ammunition used in the bombing was “He Frag OF -18” 115 mm-caliber, a Russian-made fired by “T 62”, which was in the arsenal of ground forces in the Yemeni army and the Houthis seized them after storming most of the camps along and taking its weapons and equipment following their armed insurgency late in 2014.

The Yemeni Archive is fully independent and accepts no money from governments directly involved in the Yemeni conflict. We are seeking individual donations to carry out our work. Please consider supporting our work through our Patreon page.

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