Friday, September 30, 2022

Houthis, aid group: Death toll from Yemen prison airstrikes hits 82

Rebels and an aid group said on Saturday that the death toll in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on Yemen’s Houthi rebel-run prison has reached at least 82 detainees.

Meanwhile, internet penetration in the Arab world’s poorest country remained largely low as the coalition continued airstrikes in the rebel-held capital Sanaa and elsewhere.

Friday’s airstrike in northern Saada province was part of an intensified air and ground attack that marked the escalation of Yemen’s years of civil war. The conflict pits the internationally recognized government, aided by a Saudi-led coalition, against Iranian-backed rebels.

The escalation in hostilities comes after a Houthi claim of a drone and missile attack that struck inside the capital of the United Arab Emirates earlier in the week. It also comes as government forces, aided by UAE-backed troops and coalition air strikes, have recaptured the entire Shabwa province from the Houthis and put pressure on them in central Marib province. The Houthis have attempted to control their provincial capital for a year.

Ahmed Mahat, head of the Doctors Without Borders mission in Yemen, told The Associated Press that his group counted at least 82 dead and more than 265 wounded in the airstrike.

The Houthis’ media office said rescuers were searching for survivors and bodies in the rubble of the prison site in Saada on the Saudi Arabian border.

Saudi coalition spokesman Brig. General Turki al-Malki said the Houthis had not reported the site to the United Nations or the International Committee of the Red Cross as in need of protection from airstrikes. He claimed that the Houthis’ failure to do so represented a “general deceptive view” of the militia in the conflict.

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

Yemen-Saudi air strikes

Yemen-Saudi air strikes

But Mahat of Doctors Without Borders said the airstrikes hit a different part of the facility, and no migrants were killed.

Al-Malki said that reports that the coalition had targeted the prison were false and that the coalition would conform “facts and details” to the United Nations and the ICRC, according to Saudi state-run television.

The Saada attack follows a Saudi-led coalition air strike on the Red Sea port city of Hodeida on Friday that struck a key to a telecommunications hub for connections to Yemen’s internet. Advocacy group Netblox said on Saturday that internet access in the country has been “locked down for more than 24 hours”.

The plain air raid, one of the deadliest of the war, was not the first to hit a Houthi-run prison. A September 2019 airstrike struck a detention center in southwestern Dhamar province, killing more than 100 people and injuring dozens.

Rights groups have previously documented that the Houthis have placed civilian detention centers near military barracks under constant threat of airstrikes.

Friday’s air strikes drew criticism from the United Nations and international aid and rights groups, which criticized the Houthis for an attack on the emirate a few days ago.

The coalition continued its air strikes in Sanaa and elsewhere on Saturday, targeting a Houthi-held military facility and an abandoned Yemeni state TV headquarters in the capital. The coalition said the airstrikes also targeted the Houthis in Marib’s Harib district.

And Yemeni forces closely allied with the United Arab Emirates, known as Giant’s Brigades, said they had found three vehicles carrying explosives launched by the Houthis in government-held areas in Marib and Shabwa provinces. Drone shot down.

Meanwhile, rebels took out a funeral procession in Sanaa for a senior military officer killed along with family members in a coalition airstrike last week. Hundreds of Houthi supporters attended the military funeral of General Abdullah Qasim al-Junaid, who headed the air academy.

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken urged the warring sides to stop escalating tensions.

“We urge all parties to commit to a peaceful, diplomatic solution to end the conflict. The Yemeni people deserve to live in peace and decide their own future,” he wrote on Twitter.

The latest escalation comes nearly a year after President Joe Biden’s administration announced an end to US support for the coalition and removed the Houthis’ designation as a terrorist group as part of US efforts to end the Peace War.

The Houthi-claimed attack on the United Arab Emirates on Monday prompted Biden to say that his administration would consider reinstating the status of Iranian-backed rebels as terrorists.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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