Over 60 Reportedly Killed in Saudi-led Air Strikes in Yemen

The intense campaign comes after Yemen's Houthis claimed a drone and missile attack that struck inside the capital of the UAE earlier this week

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Rescuers remove debris at the site of Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen on Tuesday
Rescuers remove debris at the site of Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen on TuesdayCredit: KHALED ABDULLAH/ REUTERS

Three children and more than 60 adults are reported to have been killed in air strikes in Yemen, a statement from Save the Children said on Friday, without providing any details.

An air strike had hit a temporary detention center in Yemen's Saada province earlier in the day, killing several people including African migrants, a Reuters witness said, as the Saudi-led coalition stepped up operations on areas held by the Houthi movement.

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Rescue workers were still pulling bodies out of the rubble around midday following the dawn strike on the temporary detention centre in Saada in north Yemen, but it was not immediately clear how many people had been killed.

A strike in the port city of Hodeida, later confirmed by satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press, hit a telecommunication center there that’s key to Yemen’s connection to the internet. Airstrikes also hit near Sanaa, Yemen’s capital held by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels since late 2014.

The intense campaign comes after the Houthis claimed a drone and missile attack that struck inside the capital of the United Arab Emirates earlier in the week.

Basheer Omar, an International Committee of the Red Cross spokesperson in Yemen, gave the casualty figure to the AP. He said rescuers continued to go through the prison site in the northern city of Saada, also controlled by the Houthis.

A man shows shrapnel from a Saudi-led air strike on a nearby military site that broke through the wall of his apartment in Sanaa, Yemen January 19, 2022.Credit: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

“The toll is likely to increase, unfortunately,” Omar said. The Red Cross had moved some of the wounded to facilities elsewhere, he said. There was no breakdown for how many were killed and how many were wounded.

Doctors Without Borders in a separate statement put the number of wounded alone at “around 200” people.

“From what I hear from my colleague in Saada, there are many bodies still at the scene of the airstrike, many missing people,” Ahmed Mahat, the organization’s head of mission in Yemen, said in a statement. “It is impossible to know how many people have been killed. It seems to have been a horrific act of violence.”

The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis did not immediately acknowledge the strike in Saada.

As for the airstrike in Hodeida that apparently took Yemen entirely offline, NetBlocks said the internet disruption began around 1 A.M. local and affected TeleYemen, the state-owned monopoly that controls internet access in the country. TeleYemen is now run by the Houthis who have held Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, since late 2014.

Yemen faces “a nation-scale collapse of internet connectivity” after an airstrike on a telecommunications building, NetBlocks said.

A Shi'ite Houthi fighter sits behind sandbags near a checkpoint in Sanaa December 17, 2014.Credit: REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayagh

The San Diego-based Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis and San Francisco-based internet firm CloudFlare also noted a nationwide outage affecting Yemen beginning around the same time.

Over 12 hours later, the internet remained down. The Norwegian Refugee Council decried the strike as “a blatant attack on civilian infrastructure that will also impact our aid delivery.”

The Houthi’s Al-Masirah satellite news channel said the strike on the telecommunications building had killed and wounded people. It released chaotic footage of people digging through rubble for a body as gunshots could be heard. Aid workers assisted bloodied survivors.

There was no immediate independent confirmation of how many people were hurt in the Hodeida attack.

The Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthi rebels acknowledged carrying out “accurate airstrikes to destroy the capabilities of the militia” around Hodeida’s port. It did not immediately acknowledge striking a telecommunication target as NetBlocks described, but instead called Hodeida a hub for piracy and Iranian arms smuggling to back the Houthis.

The undersea FALCON cable carries internet into Yemen through the Hodeida port along the Red Sea for TeleYemen. The FALCON cable has another landing in Yemen’s far eastern port of Ghaydah as well, but the majority of Yemen’s population lives in its west along the Red Sea.

A cut to the FALCON cable in 2020 caused by a ship’s anchor also caused widespread internet outages in Yemen. Land cables to Saudi Arabia have been cut since the start of Yemen’s civil war, while connections to two other undersea cables have yet to be made amid the conflict, TeleYemen previously said.

A Saudi-led coalition entered Yemen’s war in 2015 to try and restore the impoverished country’s internationally recognized government, ousted by the Houthis the year before. The war has turned into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with international criticism of Saudi airstrikes that have killed hundreds of civilians and targeted the country’s infrastructure. The Houthis meanwhile have used child soldiers and indiscriminately laid landmines across the country.

A boy looks through a hole in the wall of his family's apartment, caused by Saudi-led air strikes on a nearby military site in Sanaa, Yemen January 19, 2022. Credit: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

The war reached into the United Arab Emirates, a Saudi ally, on Monday when the Houthis claimed a drone and missile attack on Abu Dhabi, killing three people and wounding six. Although the UAE has largely withdrawn its forces from the conflict, it remains heavily involved in the war and supports local militias on the ground in Yemen.

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