Saudi-led coalition denies targeting Yemen prison

Houthi supporters demonstrate against Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen January 21, 2022.

Houthi supporters demonstrate against Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen January 21, 2022.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen denied targeting a detention centre in Yemen’s Saada province, saying the facility hit was not a site restricted from strikes, the Saudi official news agency SPA reported on Saturday.

The death toll from the airstrike climbed to at least 82 detainees, the rebels and an aid group said on Saturday.

Internet access in the Arab world’s poorest country meanwhile remained largely down as the coalition continued airstrikes on the capital of Sanaa and elsewhere.

The airstrike in northern Saada province on Friday was part of an intense air and ground offensive that marked an escalation in Yemen’s yearslong civil war. The conflict pits the internationally recognised government, aided by the Saudi-led coalition, against the Iranian-backed rebels.

The escalation comes after the Houthis claimed a drone and missile attack that struck inside the United Arab Emirates’ capital earlier in the week. It also comes as government forces, aided by UAE-backed troops and airstrikes from the coalition, have reclaimed the entire province of Shabwa from the Houthis and pressured them in the central province of Marib.

Ahmed Mahat, head of Doctors Without Borders, a charity mission in Yemen,said they counted at least 82 dead and more than 265 wounded in the airstrike.

Saudi coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki al-Malki alleged the Houthis hadn’t reported the site as needing protection from airstrikes to the UN or the International Committee of the Red Cross. He claimed the Houthis’ failure to do so represented the militia’s “usual deceptive approach” in the conflict.

The Houthis used the prison complex to hold detained migrants, mostly Africans attempting to cross through the war-torn country into Saudi Arabia, according to the humanitarian organization Save the Children.

But Mr. Mahat said the airstrike hit a different part of the facility housing other types of detainees. “The migrants there are safe,” he said.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 2:29:08 am |