Saudi Airstrike Kills 130 at Central Yemen Prison

Houthis: Most of detainees were pro-Saudi government forces

In one of the deadliest single airstrikes of the entire war, Saudi Arabia carried out a Sunday night attack on a prison in central Dhamar, Yemen, virtually leveling the site. The Red Cross delegation in the country rushed to the scene to take care of the injured.

All told, 40 prisoners were recovered alive and are being treated for injuries, while bodies are still being hauled out of the rubble. The Red Cross says they believe everyone else at the site died in the attack. With 170 prisoners held there, that puts the death toll at 130.

That’s going to be particularly embarrassing for the Saudis, because the Shi’ite Houthi movement reported that the prison held a large number of pro-Saudi government fighters detained in recent battles. They added that the location and use of the site to house combatants was known to both Red Cross and Saudi officials.

The Saudi-led coalition largely didn’t address the huge number of prisoners they are known to have killed, instead claiming the site was used for storing drones. The Red Cross statement made no mention of any other use that prison, and seemed to confirm the devastating consequences of the attack.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.