The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels that control much of Yemen have blamed the Saudi-led coalition for the attack on the northern city of Saada. On Saturday, Brigadier General Turki Al-Maliki, the coalition’s spokesman, called the claims “baseless and unfounded,” according to the Saudi state news agency SPA.
At least 70 people were killed and 130 injured in the attack, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Another airstrike hit a telecommunications building in the strategic port city of Hodeidah earlier on Friday, causing internet outages across the country, according to NetBlocks, an organization that tracks network outages. Save the Children said at least three children were killed in that attack.
The Norwegian Refugee Council said the ongoing internet blackout as of Friday night would affect aid deliveries.
The coalition said it also attacked “military targets” in the capital Sana’a on Friday, the SPA reported on Friday, claiming the operation was carried out “in response to the threat of a hostile attack”.
The ICRC said on Friday it was “deeply concerned about the intensification of hostilities” and “regrets the loss of life caused by this escalation”. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also called for de-escalation.
“The escalation of the fighting will only exacerbate the horrific humanitarian crisis and the suffering of the Yemeni people,” Blinken said in a statement.
The Houthis’ media outlet Al Masirah showed graphic videos of people under the rubble following Friday’s strike at the detention centre. The Red Cross said it had delivered emergency medical supplies to two hospitals with a “very high” number of casualties.
“According to my colleagues in Saada, there are still many bodies at the site of the airstrike, and many people are missing,” said Ahmad Mahat, MSF’s Yemen mission leader. “It is impossible to know how many there are. People were killed. It seemed like a horrific act of violence.”
Mahat said a MSF-supported hospital in Saada had been overwhelmed by the influx of wounded and could not take in more. Two other hospitals in the city also suffered heavy casualties, according to MSF.
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