Hospitals in the northern Yemen city of Saada are completely overwhelmed Friday after overnight attacks by Saudi warplanes leveled several buildings in the local prison, causing over 200 casualties, with more dead and wounded being recovered all the time.
This left a lot of mangled ruins in parts of the compound, and a lot of buildings knocked down in their entirety. Recovery and rescue operations have been ongoing eve4r since, though the hospitals in the area have already accepted all they can handle.
At least 80 detainees were killed in the attack, and Doctors Without Borders reported one hospital received 200 wounded. Exact tolls are expected to rise, and many of the wounded are not expected to survive.
Doctors Without Borders’ local mission head Ahmed Mahat, confirmed that even with the high toll already, there are many bodies still at the scene of the airstrike, and many missing people. Calling it a “horrific act of violence,” he said it is impossible to know yet just how many have been killed.
Identities of the slain are still not available, but the prison held, among others, detained would-be migrants. In the past, attacks on prisons tended to hit sites where pro-Saudi forces were held, killing some of their own fighters, while in this case it appears to have been just a random civilian prison.
Saudi Arabia had announced their intentions to escalate attacks on Yemen earlier in the week, and in the past 24 hours they have hit Saada, Saana, and the port of Hodeidah. Attacks in Saana targeted the airport, Saada the prison, and in Hodeidah attacks knocked out Yemen’s Internet access, and also hit a youth soccer game, killing three children.
The Red Cross warned that the escalation was unacceptable, noting that civilians in densely populated areas are under growing attack from airstrikes. The UN had similarly expressed concern about the escalations.
The Saudis bragged of “precision” airstrikes in Hodeidah, not mentioning the soccer game, and early statements have not acknowledged the Saada prison attack at all.
That’s not surprising, as the Saudis have tended to try to manage the public perception of their huge civilian casualties, not by scaling back attacks, but by pretending they didn’t happen. With most media dutifully reporting the Hodeidah attacks as hitting “legitimate military targets,” the backlash for killing children is somewhat undercut.