More than 200 people were killed or wounded in an air strike on a prison and at least three children died in a separate bombardment as Yemen’s long-running conflict suffered a dramatic escalation of violence on Friday.
The Huthi rebels released gruesome video footage showing bodies in the rubble and mangled corpses from the prison attack, which levelled buildings at the jail in their northern heartland of Saada.
Further south in the port town of Hodeida, the children died when air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition 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.
The attacks come 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 on Monday. The United Arab Emirates, part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels, threatened reprisals.
Aid workers said hospitals were overwhelmed in Saada after the prison attack, with one receiving 70 dead and 138 wounded, according to Doctors Without Borders.
Two other hospitals have received “many wounded” and as night fell, the rubble was still being searched, the aid agency said.
Ahmed Mahat, Doctors Without Borders’ head of mission in Yemen, said: “There are many bodies still at the scene of the air strike, many missing people.”
“It is impossible to know how many people have been killed. It seems to have been a horrific act of violence.”