A large number of people were killed when a prison complex in Yemen’s southwest was hit by airstrikes of a Saudi-led military coalition – Reuters reported.
“A safe presumption is that over 100 had been killed,” Franz Rauchenstein, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Yemen, informed after visiting the prison complex and hospitals on Sunday.
“There are three buildings hit and the building where the detainees were located, most of them or the majority has been killed,” Rauchenstein told Reuters.
He further stated that around 50 wounded people had been sent to hospitals for treatment. Residents said there had been a total of six airstrikes.
Earlier on the same day, the Houthi health ministry announced that at least 60 bodies were pulled from the rubble at the detention center, which housed 170 prisoners according to a statement by rebel official Abdul-Qader el-Murtaza.
Fifty detainees are among the dead and at least 68 detainees are still missing, the Yemen UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights indicated.
Following the Houthis’ sweeping into the capital Sanaa and ousting the internationally recognized government from power in late 2014, the Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to back President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Tens of thousands of people were killed and millions were pushed to the brink of famine by the civil war in Yemen, which is defined by United Nations officials as “the worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time.”
Reuters said the Saudi-led alliance on Sunday responded with airstrikes to recent cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia by the movement, which holds most major population centers in the Arabian Peninsula nation.
The coalition has come under widespread international criticism for killing civilians and hitting non-military targets with Sunday’s attack being the deadliest so far this year.
“The crime of the aggressors against prisoners is additional proof that they are ready to violate all Yemenis, even those loyal to them,” Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the group was quoted as saying by the Houthi-run Al Masirah TV. “All precautionary measures were taken to protect civilians,” the Saudi-led coalition said regarding the strikes.
They added that they targeted a Houthi military structure used to store drones and missiles in Dhamar, “in accordance with international humanitarian law.”
Dhamar is around 60 miles south of the capital, Sanaa.
“Accountability needs to prevail,” Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen said hoping the coalition would launch an inquiry into the incident.
Although the Houthis deny being puppets of Tehran and hold forth that they are fighting a corrupt system, the conflict in Yemen is widely regarded as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.