82-year-old prison airstrike deaths

At least 82 detainees were killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike that struck a prison run by the Houthi rebels in Cairo-Yemen, rebels and aid groups said Saturday. Internet access in the poorest countries in the Arab world remained significantly reduced.

The airstrikes in northern Saada Governorate on Friday were part of a violent airstrike and ground attack that showed Yemen’s long-standing intensification of the civil war. The conflict puts an internationally recognized government backed by a Saudi-led coalition against Iran-backed rebels.

The escalation occurs after the Houthis claims a drone and missile attack that struck the capital of the United Arab Emirates earlier in the week. It also happens when UAE-backed troops and government forces aided by coalition airstrikes regain the entire Shabwah province from the Houthi and put pressure on them in the central province of Malibu. The Houthi has been trying to control the state capital for a year.

At least 82 people were killed and more than 265 were injured in the airstrikes, Ahmed Mahat, head of Doctors Without Borders, a Yemeni charity, told The Associated Press.

The Houthi media office said rescuers were still searching for survivors and bodies in the rubble of a former prison site in Sa’dah on the border with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Union spokesman Brig. General Turki al-Marqui claimed that the Houthi did not report to the United Nations or the International Committee of the Red Cross that the site needed protection from airstrikes. He argued that the Houthi’s failure represented the militia’s “normal deceptive approach” in conflict.

According to the humanitarian organization Save the Children, the Houthis used a prison complex to detain migrants, mainly Africans, trying to cross a war-torn country to Saudi Arabia.

However, Doctors Without Borders, Mr. Mahat, said the airstrikes struck another location in a facility that housed other types of detainees. “The immigrants there are safe,” he said.

The Sada attack struck a key telecommunications center in Yemen’s Internet connection, following a Saudi-led coalition of airstrikes in the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah on Friday. Advocacy group NetBlocks.org said on Saturday that Internet access was “significantly down for more than 24 hours” in the country.

One of the deadliest of the war, the Sada air raid, was not the first to hit a Houthi-run prison. In September 2019, airstrikes struck a detention center in southwestern Damar, killing more than 100 people and injuring dozens.

Rights groups have previously documented that the Houthis is using civilian detainees as human shields by placing them in detention centers next to military barracks under constant threat of airstrikes. did.

The Houthis used child soldiers to indiscriminately lay mines nationwide. They also launched cross-border attacks in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates using ballistic missiles and explosive-laden drones.

The recent intensification of fighting in Yemen is the most intense since the Battle of Hudaydah in 2018, after a year of US and UN diplomatic efforts failing to bring both sides to the negotiating table.

Rebels have repeatedly opposed the UN and US calls to stop attacks on oil-rich Malibu. The Houthis has been working for a year for Malibu to complete control of the northern half of Yemen. It will probably give them an edge in future negotiations.

Peter Salisbury, a Yemeni expert at the International Crisis Group, said:

The conflict in the poorest countries in the Arab world began in 2014, when the Houthis occupied most of the capital Sana’a and northern Yemen, fled the government to the south, and exiled to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition, backed by the United States at the time, went into war months later in an attempt to bring the government back into power.

Since then, the conflict has become a proxy war in the region, killing tens of thousands of civilians and combatants. The war also caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with millions of people suffering from food and medical shortages and putting the country on the brink of famine.

Associated Press