At least 60 killed by Saudi-led coalition airstrike at Yemeni prison
At least 60 people, including inmates, were killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on the Houthi-controlled Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, relatives told Reuters.
The prison in question is located in the city's al-Zaydiyah district and was reportedly holding 84 inmates. It was shelled three times late Saturday, Hashem al-Azizi, deputy governor of the Houthi rebel-controlled Hodeidah province of the same name, told Reuters.
A witness at the prison site told the news agency the entire building was destroyed and medics pulled bodies from under the rubble – many of them missing limbs.
One of the strikes allegedly targeted the building directly, while two others hit the prison gate and nearby administration buildings.
According to Ruptly news agency, a Saudi-led coalition airstrike also hit the port of Hodeidah. The video filmed by Ruptly crew shows port infrastructure destroyed by mortars and still smoking, while firefighters try to extinguish the flames.
There was no immediate comment on the airstrike from the Saudi-led coalition.
Saudi Arabia intervened in the Yemen conflict to fight Houthi rebels and restore ousted Sunni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power in March 2015. The intervention has so far claimed the lives of at least 10,000 people, including almost 4,000 civilians, according to the latest UN figures.
The majority of victims are killed in airstrikes. Since the beginning of the conflict, there have been reports of Saudi jets targeting schools, hospitals, marketplaces, and other civilian buildings.
In the latest incident, at least 17 civilians, including 11 members of one family, were killed in the western Yemeni city of Taiz on Saturday.
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Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes following an airstrike on a funeral. On October 8, at least two air-dropped munitions penetrated the roof of a hall containing over 1,000 mourners during a funeral ceremony, also in Hodeida port city. At least 140 people were killed and 610 wounded.
Peace talks between opposing parties in Yemen mediated by the UN, which aimed to bring hostilities to an end, faltered in August, and fighting continued.
Exiled President Hadi rejected another UN peace plan on Saturday, saying it would be a path to more war and destruction. According to Reuters, the proposed plan suggests sidelining Hadi and setting up a government of less divisive figures.
Speaking after a meeting with UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheickh Ahmed in Riyadh, Hadi blasted the plan, saying it would “reward the rebels and penalize the Yemeni people and legitimacy,” Reuters reported, citing government-controlled Saba news agency.
Pro-Houthi activist and Yemeni journalist Hussain Albukhaiti told RT that the airstrike in Taiz on Saturday was not the only coalition attack in Yemen that day, stating that the combined death toll from Saudi airstrikes on Saturday alone was approximately 90 people. He slammed the United States and the UK for supplying the Saudis with weapons, and expressed his outrage at the fact that Saudi Arabia was re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council.
“The Saudis [are] conducting this [war] with the full support of the United States, [using] US satellites and British missiles.
“American fuel and jets are the only reason that gives the Saudis power to reach different areas in Yemen, the only reason for which the Saudis can cover the whole country and [impose] their blockade.
“The Saudis were elected twice during the war in Yemen as a member of the UN Human Rights Council... I think this is [one of] the mainproblems we have with the international community,” Albukhaiti said.
Saudi Arabia, a member of the Council since it was created in 2006, was successfully re-elected to the UNHRC on Friday. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International produced a joint statement earlier this year condemning Saudi Arabia for “an appalling record of violations” and “possible war crimes” in Yemen. The two organizations called for the country to be suspended from the UNHRC – but to no avail.
The war in Yemen has resulted in a growing humanitarian crisis, with food shortages in many areas. According to Abeer Etefa from the United Nations World Food Programme, as of June nine out of 22 governorates are at emergency levels of food security, a step just below a famine. In addition, many children across the country are experiencing stunted growth and malnutrition.
“That is attributed to the current conflict, to the fact that many families have lost livelihoods, have lost jobs,” Etefa told RT. “So the situation is quite dire in Yemen because of the fighting that’s happening and because of all parties involvement in this conflict.”