Dozens of people have been killed in an air raid on a prison in northern Yemen, a Houthi official and medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) have said, after a night of deadly bombing underlined a dramatic escalation in violence in the country’s long-running conflict.
A Saudi-led military coalition has intensified air raids on what it has said are military targets linked to the Houthi rebel movement, after the Houthis conducted an unprecedented assault on coalition member the United Arab Emirates on Monday and further cross-border missile and drones launches at Saudi cities.
Footage released by the Houthis on Friday showed rescue workers pulling bodies from out of the rubble, following the dawn raid on the temporary detention centre in Saada.
Taha al-Motawakel, health minister in the Houthi government, which controls the country’s north, told The Associated Press news agency that 70 detainees were killed at the prison. He said the death toll was expected to rise since many of the wounded were seriously hurt.
An MSF spokesperson told the AFP news agency at least 70 people were killed and 138 others were wounded in the attack.
The figures came from one hospital in Saada, the spokesperson said, adding, “Two others in the city have received many wounded as well and the rubble is still being searched.”
Further south in the vital port city of Hodeidah, video released by the Houthis showed bodies in the rubble and dazed survivors after an overnight air attack carried out by the Saudi-led coalition took out a telecommunications hub. Yemen suffered a nationwide internet blackout, a web monitor said.
NetBlocks said the internet disruption began around 1am local time (22:00 GMT on Thursday) and affected TeleYemen, the state-owned monopoly that controls internet access in the country.
The San Diego-based Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis and San Francisco-based internet firm CloudFlare also noted a nationwide outage affecting Yemen beginning around the same time.
More than 12 hours later, the internet remained down. The Norwegian Refugee Council decried the attack as “a blatant attack on civilian infrastructure that will also impact our aid delivery.”
According to the UK-based charity Save the Children, at least three children were killed in the Hodeidah air raid.
“The children were reportedly playing on a nearby football field when missiles struck the port town of Hodeidah,” it said in a statement.
The organisation said at least 60 people were killed in the air raid in Saada and more than 100 others wounded, most of them migrants, it added.
“The initial casualties report from Saada is horrifying,” said Gillian Moyes, Save the Children’s country director in Yemen, in a statement.
“Migrants seeking better lives for themselves and their families, Yemeni civilians injured by the dozens is a picture we never hoped to wake up to in Yemen.”