Several people have been killed after an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a detention center in northern Yemen on Friday, the Red Cross confirmed.
The incident happened in the northern city of Saada, a stronghold of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who have been waging a war against the Saudi-backed government for several years.
The Houthi-run Al Marisah television channel said that dozens of people had been killed in the attack. A witness told the Spanish news agency EFE that the death toll was at least 25. This number has not been confirmed.
“There was a targeting of a detention center in Saada and currently ICRC teams are inspecting the location to verify the numbers of dead and injured,” Basheer Omar, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen, told AFP.
Houthis report several strikes
The airstrike happened early in the morning and by midday, rescue workers were still pulling bodies out of the rubble.
Residents in Saada told EFE that there were three airstrikes from coalition planes, but Riyadh did not confirm the attack.
A witness told Reuters news agency that African immigrants were among the deceased. Despite the ongoing conflict, migrants still cross into Yemen across the Horn of Africa hoping to reach Saudi Arabia or other wealthy Gulf states.
The strike also coincided with a nationwide internet blackout, according to web monitor NetBlocks. The Houthis said that a separate coalition strike had hit a communications hub in the port city of Hodeida.
The coalition confirmed that it had carried out attacks against “Houthi military capabilities” in Hodeida, Bayda province and the Houthi-led capital Sanaa.
The airstrikes come after the Houthi insurgents claimed responsibility for a drone attack that killed three people in the city of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE is a key member of the coalition fighting the Houthi militants.
Saudi Arabia and its allies first intervened in the Yemeni conflict in March 2015 after the Houthis forced the internationally recognized government in Sanaa to flee.
The fighting has killed tens of thousands of people already, displacing millions more and pushing Yemen into a humanitarian crisis.
The UN’s envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, called on both sides to “exercise maximum restraint” on Friday while expressing concern for the military escalation.