More than 100 killed in Saudi-led airstrike in Yemen, Red Cross says

  • ITV News Correspondent John Ray explains what is happening in war-torn Yemen

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s rebels has attacked a prison in the south-western province of Dhamar with several airstrikes, killing at least 100 people.

The attack was the deadliest so far this year by the coalition, which has faced international criticism for airstrikes that have killed civilians and hit non-military targets.

Yemeni officials said Sunday’s strikes targeted a college in the city of Dhamar, which the rebels, known as Houthis, were using as a detention centre.

People inspect the rubble at a Houthi detention centre destroyed by Saudi-led air strikes Credit: Hani Mohammed/AP

The coalition denied it had struck a lockup, saying it had targeted a military site.

"We were sleeping and around midnight, there were maybe three, or four, or six strikes. They were targeting the jail, I really don’t know the strike numbers," wounded detainee Nazem Saleh said while on a stretcher in a local hospital.

He said the ICRC had visited the centre two times before the air strike.

Youssef al-Hadhri, a spokesman for the Houthi-run Health Ministry, said at least seven air strikes hit three buildings in the complex overnight.

A rescue worker uncovers the body of a detainee Credit: Hani Mohammed/AP

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which inspects detention centres as part of its global mission, said it had visited the site in the past.

The Red Cross said it sent urgent medical supplies and 200 body bags to Dhamar.

Meanwhile former detainees said the Houthis had also used the site in the past to store and repair weapons.

The Saudi-led coalition said it had hit a military facility used by the rebels to restore drones and missiles.

The strikes came as the Saudi-led coalition’s partners - chiefly the United Arab Emirates and an array of Yemeni militias - are increasingly at odds over the war’s aims.

Saudi Arabia intervened on behalf of the internationally recognised government in March 2015, after the Iran-backed Houthis took the capital city.

On Sunday, Sweden’s foreign minister was holding talks in Jordan, part of her efforts to relaunch negotiations after years of stalemate between the warring sides.

The conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives, thrust millions to the brink of famine and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.