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INVESTIGATIONS

An airstrike on an arms depot in Faj Attan camp in Al-Sabeen area, the capital, Sanaa.

December 6, 2021

he raid resulted in killing four crew members of the technical and journalistic staff in Yemen Today Channel TV, and injuring 15 others.

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Incident

  • An airstrike on an arms depot in Faj Attan camp in Al-Sabeen area, the capital, Sanaa. The raid resulted in killing four crew members of the technical and journalistic staff in Yemen Today Channel TV, and injuring 15 others.
  • Location: Sanaa, Faj Attan neighborhood, Beirut Street, near the Sudanese Embassy.
  • Date: Monday, 20 April 2015.
  • Time: 10:30 a.m.
  • Alleged targets: arms depot, Faj Attan camp.
  • Victims: Four killed and 14 injured crew members of Yemen Today Channel TV team.
  • Damage: government facilities, shops, private property, and Yemen Today Channel TV surrounding Faj Attan camp.
  • Attack type: airstrike.
  • Possible munitions: unknown.
  • Potential responsibility: Saudi Led Coalition.

Introduction

On Monday, 20 April 2015, the Saudi led Coalition targeted an arms depot in Faj Attan camp in Al-Sabeen district, southwest of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, with an air strike, causing severe damage to the area surrounding the camp and damaging several houses, government facilities and private property. The attack left many dead and wounded, 18 of whom work for Yemen Today Channel TV, including journalists.

About the area

Faj Attan is one of the neighborhoods of Al-Sabeen District, the largest district of the capital, Sanaa, and is located in the southwestern part of the capital. Faj Attan neighborhood is one of the most densely populated areas in the city. There are several embassies, schools and universities in the capital, which have been repeatedly damaged by the repeated targeting of the area. The building of Yemen Today Channel TV is located in Faj Attan neighborhood, Beirut Street, next to the Sudanese embassy.

1 A satellite image of Yemen Today TV building in Faj Attan

The incident

On the morning of Monday, 20 April, social media and news websites, and media outlets circulated news that the Saudi led Coalition targeted an arms depot in a camp in Jabal Faj Attan, leaving several civilian casualties and damaging residential buildings and, as well as public and private facilities surrounding the camp. The surveillance cameras footage of Dhamran Center store near the camp, which were posted on YouTube, indicate that the time of the explosion was at 10:36 am Sanaa time.

A screenshot from the surveillance cameras video inside Dhamran supermarket

Majd Taiz YouTube published another video recorded by the surveillance cameras of Al-Azani Center, during the explosion. The time shows that the explosion was at 10:46 am.

About an hour later, journalist Ahmed Qassem Al-Omari tweeted, saying that the broadcast of Yemen Today TV was cut off due to the targeting of Jabal Attan by several rockets.

2 A screenshot of Ahmed Qassem Al-Omari tweet about the incident

At 12:13 pm, Mujahid Al-Matari posted on Facebook about the targeting of Yemen Today TV by the Saudi led Coalition, and the killing of several of its employees.

4 A screenshot of Mujahid Al-Matari Facebook post about the incident and timestamp analysis of the post by Timestamp Converter

At 14:22 pm, a Facebook post by Mohammed Adel reported the death of Mohammed Shamsan, correspondent of Yemen Today TV and anchor in Yemen FM Radio, after being hit by shrapnel near Yemen Today TV building.

5 A screenshot of Mohammed Adel Facebook post about the incident and timestamp analysis of the post by Timestamp Converter

Locating the target site

The Saudi led Coalition claimed that there were arms depots in Faj Attan camp. According to a report by the Washington Times, quoting the Associated Press that “some 6 kilometers (4 miles) away from Fag Atan, cars were damaged and charred, shop fronts were shattered and the windows were blown out of office buildings.” The headquarters of Yemen Today Channel TV and Yemen FM Radio were among those damaged by the explosion.

Satellite images from Google Earth, before and after targeting Jabal Attan, showing the destruction

6 Images from Google Earth Pro showing the extent of the explosion, estimated at 6 kilometers

Some of the buildings impacted by the explosion were identified by matching the visual content of the attack recorded by the surveillance cameras of some nearby shops with the images and information of those shops in Google Maps.

The images in Google Maps of Dhamran shop correspond to the scenes documented in a video posted by AlYemen Bandar on YouTube. The images of the Al-Azzani Center outside in Google Maps are consistent with the footage recorded by the surveillance cameras after the explosion. The building outside images in Google Maps were also compared with a video published by Azaal Channel YouTube showing the destruction in Faj Attan area after targeting the camp. Among the buildings that appeared in the video near the Yemen Today TV, High Class Furniture building, which appeared in 16:42 minute of the video.

The location of each shop was determined separately via satellite images from Google Earth, to find out how close it is to Jabal Faj Attan, the targeted area.

Photos from inside Dhamran shop, Al-Azzani Commercial Center and High-Class Furniture building, and a satellite image shows the buildings proximity to Jabal Faj Attan.

Shortly after the explosion, Yemen Today Channel TV published a video on YouTube, showing some visual evidence through the window of the building, which led us to the exact location of the TV at coordinates 15.315292, 44.185555, in addition to the camera angle.

A screenshot from Yemen Today Channel TV video, and a satellite image from Google Earth.

The exterior of the building and the decorations on the walls behind the TV reporter during his tour around the place match what appeared in the photos of the solidarity stand organized by media professionals at the Yemen TV headquarters, which was published by Lahj News website.

A clip from a video of Yemen Today TV showing the building from the outside

9 A photo of the stand in solidarity with Yemen TV, published by Lahj News website.

The Saudi Cultural Center was among the buildings that appeared in Azaal News YouTube video which is located on the same street as the headquarters of Yemen Today TV. The Saudi Center building appeared in the video at 11:16.

A clip from a video published by Azaal YouTube showing the roundabout in front of the Saudi Cultural Center

10 Satellite images from Google Earth, showing the Saudi Cultural Center before and after the attack, and the roundabout

11 The distance between the Saudi Center and Yemen Today TV building, which is 0.51 km

Based on the buildings that appeared in the visual content published at the moment of the explosion in the videos of the Al-Arabiya TV and AlMustashar Lens YouTube, and the direction of the flames and the clouds of smoke, we found that the building of Yemen Today TV was close to the site of the explosion, at an estimated distance of 1200 meters.

13 A satellite image of the location of Yemen Today TV building and its proximity to Jabal Faj Attan.

Flying munitions

Azaal YouTube documented in a video the gaps caused by the flying shrapnel and munitions after the explosion in Faj Attan. A report by Al-Jazeera and photos published by International Committee of the Red Cross and Middle East Eye website also show munitions similar to 130 mm howitzers, in addition to detonators of the same type of munitions.

Screenshots from the video of Azaal YouTube Video

Screenshots from Al-Jazeera TV video, and an image from Middle East Eye website, showing remnants of the flying munitions.

16 Photos from the International Committee of the Red Cross website of remnants of flying munitions.

17 A photo from the CATUXO website

In the open-source visual content, we did not find remnants of rockets of any kind. Most of what appeared were remnants of artillery shells, hand grenades, and fuses, indicating that the target location was a depot of artillery ammunition and other explosives.

Damage in Yemen Today TV building

Yemen Today TV published the day after the incident a video on YouTube of surveillance cameras installed inside the TV headquarters documenting the first moments of the explosion. A year after the incident, the TV published another video of the moment of the explosion while filming a program. The videos showing the damage were compiled.

Compiled screenshots from Yemen Today TV videos at the moment of the explosion

Yemen Today TV published a video on its YouTube channel with a report on the incident on the same day, explaining the destruction of the building. On the second anniversary of the targeting, Yemen Today estimated its losses at two million dollars and published a video from inside the channel building after it was closed.

Victims

It is difficult to determine the exact number of the victims of Faj Attan airstrike due to the conflicting statistics published by several parties, as the documentation included direct victims, as well as victims of flying glass due to pressure, falling ammunition, burnings and other consequences of the huge explosion. The wide range of the damage prevented us from reaching a reliable specific number.

The number of victims of Yemen Today TV staff reached 4 deaths and 18 injures, according to Yemen Today TV report:

Names of Yemen Today TV staff who were killed:

  1. Muhammad Shamsan (anchor and reporter)
  2. Amin Ahmed Yahya Al-Qudsi (Accountant in the finance department)
  3. Munir Aklan (guard)
  4. Hizam Ali Muhammad Zaid (guard)

Names of Yemen Today TV staff who were injured:

  1. Abdullah Al-Shakri (photographer)
  2. Nayef Al-Murid
  3. Khalil Ali Khalil
  4. Ali Al-Dhaifi
  5. Adham Al Hadari
  6. Mohammed Al-Rimi
  7. Samah Al-Faqih
  8. Hisham Saleh
  9. Mekdad Mofrah
  10. Alyan Mofrah
  11. Ibrahim Shaaban
  12. Ammar Rashid
  13. Abdul Rahman Al-Hamdani
  14. Haitham Al-Ansi
  15. Samah al-Faqih - one of the wounded and the only woman who remained in the TV building during the attack. In her testimony to Yemeni Archive, Samah al-Faqih said: My colleagues and I were working in the basement when we heard the sounds of bombing, so my colleagues ran away from the TV building after the first strike. My colleagues and I stayed in, then we heard another violent explosion. At first, we felt as if the building rose and fell quickly, because the pressure was intense, then we heard a third explosion, then everyone moved towards the stairs to take cover, so I got confused and froze in my place. Because of the pressure, a window with a fan broke behind me. The fan flew on my head from behind and I got injured. One of my colleagues made room for me to hide under the stairs. We stayed for minutes, then we went out, and saw the great destruction in the building. Everything was destroyed and broken. When we reached the building gate we saw a large blood stain, and that blood was the blood of my colleague Amin Yahya al-Qudsi’s blood, an accountant in the financial department.

Samah added, “We came out of the TV building and saw debris filling the place. We ran in the street unconsciously and we did not find a means of transportation. All that time, blood was dripping from the wound in my head. A colleague wanted an ambulance, but I refused. I was thinking of my home and to check on my parents.”

On the second day of the incident, Yemen Today TV published a video on its YouTube footage from the security cameras in the building documenting the first moments of the explosion. At minute 00:19 of the video, Samah Al-Faqih and her colleagues appear after the third explosion, rushing towards the stairs to take cover.

Yemeni News Agency-Saba published a report on Jabal Faj Attan attack. According to the report, Yemen Today cameraman Hamed Al-Awami, an eyewitness, said that -“a shell penetrated the roof of the building, which also hosts the headquarters of Yemen FM radio. The employees started to shout and started pushing each other.”-

Yemen Today TV also published a video on its YouTube in which photographer Nabil Al-Ayami talked about the death of his colleague Muhammad Shamsan. At minute 4:50, Nabil said: _“After the missile landed and we were in the minibus, we lowered our heads and stones were scattered over us. Then I saw my colleague Muhammad Shamsan and tried to put my hand on his head, but I could not find his skull. We tried to take him to three hospitals, but we were unable to save him…“-

This is what Al-Awami confirmed to Yemeni Archive team while recording his testimony, saying: -“The second missile was loud and frightening. I got on the bus after Muhammad, who was sitting in the corner with his hands on his face from fear. Big stones were thrown forcefully towards the bus from behind me and caused me back pain, which I still suffer until now. After the situation calmed down a bit, dust was covering the place, blocking the view.“-

The same video (minute 04:1) shows the position described by Al-Awami in his testimony about the condition of his friend during his injury. Al-Awami said: “I held his hand shouting Muhammad! Muhammad! the blow he had received behind his head was from a shrapnel that penetrated the bus window and hit him.”

He told us:

We went out that day after the first missile exploded, the bombing was violent that day, and the bus driver refused to continue driving. We were given the choice between going back with him or getting down at a short distance from the TV. We chose to get off the bus and waited five minutes until we saw a small bus heading towards us. When we wanted to enter the bus, we heard the sound of the second missile, it was a loud and frightening sound. After the situation calmed down a little, the whole place was dusty and nothing could be seen. We got out of the bus to hide behind the barricades of the Saudi building.

Al-Awami added:

I was afraid at the time and thought that the bombing was in the building next to us. I took my camera and went to Muhammad Shamsan. He was hit in the back of the head as he was sitting at the back of the bus. Shrapnel entered from behind him and penetrated the bus window and hit him. Along the way, body parts were scattered everywhere, and there were children as well, and burnt bodies near the gas station. The TV building was a little further away, but it was destroyed, and three colleagues were killed, other than Muhammad Shamsan.

Al-Awami tried to get Shamsan out of the bus with his head covered with a piece of cloth, and then he felt that Shamsan started breathing again. He took Shamsan to the nearest hospital, where the situation in the nearby Al-Mushki Hospital - according to his description - was in chaos due to the influx of the wounded from the explosion. Al-Awami said: “I grabbed the doctor’s hand there and asked her to help my colleague. She told me: son, I can’t save him.”

Frequent attacks

Yemen Today building and its crew have been targeted by the conflicting parties in Yemen several times. On 11 June 2014, Yemeni president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi’s presidential guard forces stormed Yemen Today TV building. Azaal YouTube channel published a surveillance camera video of the moment of the storming and the confiscation of equipment.

On 2 December 2017, 41 members of Yemen Today TV crew were detained by the Ansar Allah group “Houthis”, after former president Ali Abdullah Saleh announced in a televised interview the termination of his alliance with the Houthi group. Their detention continued for several days, according to a report by Reporters Without Borders.

In April 2018, Muhammad Nasser Al-Washli, Yemen Today TV financial auditor, and engineer Abdullah Al-Najjar, director of the scenery department died as a result of air raids by the Saudi led Coalition. The raid hit the TV crew while they were preparing for a Ramadan series in Bajil District, al-Hodeidah governorate, and also injured crew members.

Conclusion

Based on the information provided above, Yemeni Archive concluded that Yemen Today TV building was destroyed by the explosion of a Saudi-led Coalition air strike on an arms depot in Jabal Faj Attan camp, about 1200 meters from the headquarters of Yemen Today TV. The air strike also damaged many houses, government facilities, shops and some private property in the area. It also resulted in many victims, whose numbers varied. Four Yemen Today TV crew members were killed and 14 others were injured, among other victims.

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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