Dispute over responsibility for attack on prison in Yemen

Status: 01/22/2022 10:01 a.m

Dozens of people were killed in an attack on a Yemeni prison apparently used as a camp for refugees. Houthi rebels blame the military coalition fighting in the country, but they deny it.

A devastating airstrike on a prison in Saada, Yemen, has killed at least 70 people and injured more than 100 others. The military coalition led by Saudi Arabia has now denied responsibility for the attack. A “thorough” examination of the information and reports has shown that the allegations are “unfounded,” said a spokesman for the military coalition, according to the Saudi Arabian news agency SPA.

Regardless, the prison in the Houthi rebel stronghold is not on a list of prohibited targets from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen (Ocha), the statement said. It was also not reported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

UN and aid organizations appalled

The rebels had blamed the military coalition for the attack. They released video footage of what appeared to be mutilated bodies among the rubble of the detention center. They accused the military coalition of having committed a “crime” in Saada. According to Doctors Without Borders, almost 140 people were injured in the airstrike.

Prison was a transit camp for refugees

According to eight aid organizations working in Yemen, the prison was used as a collection center for refugees. The organizations said they were “appalled” by the deaths of more than 70 people. Among the dead were migrants, women and children “killed in a blatant disregard for the lives of civilians.” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also condemned the attack. His spokesman said other airstrikes had also been reported from other parts of Yemen, killing children.

An airstrike on the port city of Hodeida also led to an internet failure in Yemen, according to the observer organization NetBlocks. A telecommunications building was hit, it said. The state-owned company TeleYemen in Hodaya, which is now controlled by the rebels, is affected. More than twelve hours later, a connection to the Internet was still not possible. The military coalition said it had carried out targeted airstrikes aimed at destroying militia assets in the Hodeida port area. She did not admit to having met TeleYemen. The coalition called Hodaydah a haven for piracy and Iranian arms smuggling for the Houthis.

More than 370,000 dead in the war

Yemen has been at war since 2015 between President Abd Rabbo Mansur Hadi’s troops, backed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab states, and Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The Houthis launched their first attack on the United Arab Emirates on Monday, killing three people. The military coalition then flew retaliatory strikes that killed at least 14 people in Yemen.

More than 370,000 people have already been killed in the Yemen conflict and millions have had to flee. The United Nations classifies the war and its aftermath as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.


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