The Indonesian Embassy in Yemen was heavily damaged and three Indonesians were injured Monday after a Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes on a weapons base in the Houthi rebel-controlled capital Sanaa.
There were no fatalities at the embassy, but Agence France-Presse reported that at least 28 people were killed and close to 300 injured from after-explosions in the area.
These were caused by an aerial bombardment of a rebel-held missile depot in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, according to AFP.
“Alhamdulillah [thank God] there were no fatalities, but two diplomatic staff and one Indonesian citizen sustained minor injuries. All staff and Indonesian nationals have been evacuated to Wisma Duta in Sanaa and soon will be evacuated to Al Hudaydah,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi said in a statement, referring to the ambassador’s residence and Yemen’s fourth largest city.
“The embassy was not the target of the explosion, but we are affected. We denounce this action,” she had said earlier after a press conference at the Jakarta Convention Center.
The embassy building was almost completely destroyed, Aji Surya, deputy director for repatriation and social assistance at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told BenarNews.
“The air raid destroyed 90 percent of the embassy building. We had to evacuate some staff to a safe place. The situation in Yemen is becoming increasingly uncertain,” Aji said.
Since December, the Indonesian government has evacuated 1,981 of its nationals from Yemen, amid an escalating conflict that is drawing in rival Middle Eastern powers.
In January, Houthi rebels – Shia Muslims backed by Iran – ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
For more than three weeks now, a coalition of 10 Sunni Muslim nations, led by Saudi Arabia, has been bombing the Houthi group and army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Last week, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) asked Indonesia – the world’s most populous Muslim nation – to mediate Yemeni peace talks.
However, a top lawmaker on Monday called for Indonesia to withdraw its diplomats from Yemen for the time being because of the insecurity.
“Indonesians must be withdrawn and I support closing the embassy because the situation is not safe. We have to ensure the safety of the diplomats and representatives of Indonesia in that country,” said Fadli Zon, deputy chairman of the House of Representatives (DPR).
“This conflict must end because it has caused the deaths of many innocent civilians. It’s very sad,” he added.