Amnesty calls for investigation over use of UK cluster bomb in Yemen


Amnesty International has called for an immediate investigation into allegations that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has used UK-manufactured cluster bombs in Yemen.

The human rights organisation requested Prime Minister David Cameron probe to find out if British personnel were involved in dropping banned cluster bombs from UK-supplied Tornado jets.

The move follows Amnesty's recent field research in the Sa'da, Hajjah, and Sanaa governorates near the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border, where a partially-exploded UK-manufactured BL-755 cluster bomb was found.

Banned under international law, the BL-755 weapon contains 147 bomblets that are designed to burn through tank armour and then explode into more than 2,000 metal fragments.

According to a statement posted on Amnesty's website, the cluster bombs might have killed and injured civilians, including children during controversial attacks by the military coalition in Yemen.

Amnesty International UK Arms Control director Oliver Sprague said: "Cluster bombs are one of the nastiest weapons in the history of warfare, rightly banned by more than 100 countries, so it's truly shocking that a British cluster munition has been dropped on a civilian area in Yemen.

"The UK should have been tracking down all the now-banned cluster bombs it's sold to Saudi Arabia over the years and pressing for them to be safely disposed of.

"Cluster bombs are one of the nastiest weapons in the history of warfare, rightly banned by more than 100 countries."

"Instead, shamefully, it's now come to light that a UK cluster bomb has been used in Yemen, spraying its deadly bomblets all over a village and jeopardising the lives of men, women and children."

Amnesty also discovered that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces used US and Brazilian cluster munitions.

However, the Independent has quoted UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond as saying that the UK did not support the use of cluster munitions by the Saudi-led coalition.

The UK government has reportedly launched investigation into the allegations.

UK Defense Minister Philip Dunne was quoted by media sources as saying: "I can categorically reassure [you] that no British planes have been involved in this coalition effort at all, let alone in dropping cluster munitions - that is the potential allegation.

"There is no British involvement in the coalition in targeting or weaponising aircraft to undertake missions."

Image: Some of the scores of UK-manufactured cluster bomblets recently gathered in northern Yemen. Photo: courtesy of Amnesty International.