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Air strike on Yemen prison leaves over 70 dead

SAADA, YEMEN (AFP) – Some over 70 people were killed in an air strike on a prison as Yemen’s long-running conflict suffered a dramatic escalation on Friday that drew condemnation from United Nations (UN) Chief Antonio Guterres.

The Huthi rebels released gruesome video footage showing bodies in the rubble and mangled corpses from the attack, which levelled buildings at the prison in their northern heartland of Saada.

The coalition, which has been fighting the rebels since 2015, released a statement yesterday denying it carried out the strike.

Reports of the targetting of the rebel-held facility are “baseless and unfounded”, said coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki, who was quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency.

The coalition official said the prison was not placed on a “No Strike List in accordance with the agreed upon mechanism” with the United Nations’ humanitarian affairs office in Yemen and had “not been reported by the International Committee of the Red Cross”.

Map locates two airstrikes in Yemen. PHOTO: AP

Al-Malki said the coalition would share with both agencies “the facts and details, as well as the media misinformation” by the Huthis about the facility.

Further south in the port city of Hodeida, at least three children died when air strikes hit a telecommunications facility as they played nearby, Save the Children said. Yemen also suffered a country-wide Internet blackout.

“The children were reportedly playing on a nearby football field when missiles struck,” Save the Children said.

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

They said the prison in Saada was used as a holding centre for migrants, who made up many of the casualties.

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