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Air strike on Yemen prison leaves at least 70 dead

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At least 70 people were killed in an airstrike on a prison and at least three children were killed in another bombardment as Yemen's long-running conflict escalated dramatically in violence on Friday.
Houthi rebels released gruesome video footage showing bodies amid the rubble and mutilated corpses from the prison attack, which brought down buildings at the jail in the heart of northern Saada.

Further south, in the port city of Hodeidah, children were killed when Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit a telecommunications facility while they were playing nearby, Save the Children said.  Yemen also suffered a nationwide internet blackout.
“Children were reportedly playing on a nearby soccer field when missiles fell,” Save the Children said.The UN Human Rights Office said reports of intensifying coalition airstrikes in populated areas were
Air strike on Yemen prison leaves at least 70 dead

At least 70 people were killed in an airstrike on a prison and at least three children were killed in another bombardment as Yemen‘s long-running conflict escalated dramatically in violence on Friday.

Houthi rebels released gruesome video footage showing bodies amid the rubble and mutilated corpses from the prison attack, which brought down buildings at the jail in the heart of northern Saada.

Further south, in the port city of Hodeidah, children were killed when Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit a telecommunications facility while they were playing nearby, Save the Children said. Yemen also suffered a nationwide internet blackout.

“Children were reportedly playing on a nearby soccer field when missiles fell,” Save the Children said.

The UN Human Rights Office said reports of intensifying coalition airstrikes in populated areas were “deeply shocking”.

Eight aid agencies operating in Yemen said in a joint statement that they were “appalled by the news that more than 70 people, including migrants, women and children, have been killed… in blatant disregard for the lives of civilians.” “.

They said the prison in Saada was used as a detention center for immigrants, who made up many of the victims.

– ‘Answer provided’ –
But the UAE insisted that it and other coalition members remained committed to “proportionate” responses to the Houthi attacks.

“The coalition is committed to complying with international law and a proportionate response in all of its military operations,” said UAE Ambassador to the United Nations Lana Nusseibeh.

The attacks came after the Houthis took the seven-year war into a new phase by claiming a drone and missile attack on Abu Dhabi that killed three people on Monday.

They also came as the UN Security Council met at the request of the United Arab Emirates to discuss the attack on Abu Dhabi.

The council unanimously condemned “heinous terror attacks” by Yemeni rebels, but in a statement before the meeting, the council’s Norwegian presidency also strongly condemned the latest violence.

“It’s not acceptable,” Norwegian ambassador Mona Juul said of the strikes, calling for “de-escalation and restraint.”

Aid workers said hospitals in Saada were overwhelmed after the prison attack, with one receiving 70 deaths and 138 injuries, according to Doctors Without Borders.

Two other hospitals have received “many injured” and the rubble was still being searched as night fell, the aid agency said.

– ‘Horrible act’ –
Ahmed Mahat, head of mission for Médecins Sans Frontières in Yemen, said: “There are still a lot of bodies at the scene of the airstrike, a lot of missing people.”

“It is impossible to know how many people have died. It appears to have been a horrific act of violence.”

The coalition claimed responsibility for the attack on Hodeida, a vital port for the shattered country, but did not say it had carried out any attacks on Saada.

Saudi Arabia‘s state news agency said the coalition carried out “precision air strikes… to destroy the capabilities of the Houthi militia in Hodeidah.”

He said Saudi air defenses destroyed a missile fired from Saada on Friday towards Khamis Mushait, the site of a major Saudi air base.

The global internet watchdog, NetBlocks, reported a “collapse of internet connectivity on a national scale”.

AFP correspondents in Hodeida and Sanaa confirmed the blackout. Save the Children said it would hamper their ability to operate.

Yemen‘s civil war began in 2014 when the Houthis descended from their base in Saada to invade the capital, Sanaa, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene to prop up the government the following year.

Tensions have soared in recent weeks after the UAE-backed Giants Brigade drove rebels out of Shabwa province, undermining their months-long campaign to take the key northern city of Marib. .

On January 3, the Houthis hijacked a UAE-flagged ship in the Red Sea, prompting a warning from the coalition that it would attack rebel-held ports.

And on Monday, they claimed a long-range attack that hit oil facilities and the airport in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, killing two Indians and a Pakistani, and wounding six others.

The attack, the UAE‘s first acknowledged deadly assault within its borders and claimed by the Houthis, opened a new front in the Yemen war and fueled regional tensions.

In retaliation, the coalition carried out airstrikes on rebel-held Sanaa, killing 14 people.

Yemen‘s civil war has been a catastrophe for millions of its citizens who have fled their homes, many on the brink of famine in what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The UN has estimated that the war killed 377,000 people by the end of 2021, both directly and indirectly through famine and disease.

Source Credit: TheGuardian

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