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Frenzied Saudi bombing of Yemen: Reports of over 180 casualties

People put the body of a victim inside an ambulance following a Saudi airstrike against a communications center in Yemen’s western port city of Hudaydah late on January 20, 2022. (Photo by Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network)

Saudi warplanes have bombed homes in Yemen's western city of Hudaydah and a detention center in northern Sa'ada, with initial reports putting casualties above 180 people. 

In Sa'ada, Saudi warplanes attacked a temporary detention center, leaving at least 180 people - including African migrants - dead or injured, al-Masirah reported. It showed footage of the wounded at al-Jamhuri hospital in Sa'ada.

A correspondent of Lebanon's al-Mayadeen television in Yemen said 62 bodies had been pulled out from under the rubble. 

"The hospitals are full of martyrs and the wounded, and we desperately need medicine and medical equipment," Sa'ada Governor Mohammed Jaber Awad said. "Many international organizations had previously visited the prison." 

In Hudaydah, at least six civilians were killed and 18 others injured after Saudi jets heavily bombed residential areas early Friday, al-Mayadeen reported.

They struck a communications center in the city some 145 km southwest of the capital Sana'a, provincial health office director Ali al-Ahdal told Yemen's al-Masirah television. As a result, a three-story building was leveled to the ground.

It released chaotic footage of people digging through rubble for a body as gunshots could be heard. Aid workers assisted bloodied survivors.

Local authorities continued to search for possible survivors and recover the bodies of the victims who were mostly children playing near the building.

A source said incessant overflights by Saudi aircraft are hampering rescue efforts.

Internet down

The airstrike also plunged Yemen offline as the war-torn nation lost its connection to the internet nationwide, an advocacy group said.

NetBlocks said the disruption began around 1 a.m. local and affected TeleYemen, the state-owned monopoly that controls internet access in the country. 

Yemen is "in the midst of a nation-scale internet blackout following airstrike on (a) telecom building," NetBlocks said, without immediately elaborating. 

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.

The frenzied bombing of Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition has intensified since Yemeni forces launched rare drone and missile strikes against strategic targets deep inside the UAE in retaliation.  

On Tuesday, Israel's extremist prime minister Naftali Bennett offered the regime's “security and intelligence support” to the United Arab Emirates following the retaliatory attack in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi.

“Israel stands with the UAE. I stand with [Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Zayed," he said, adding he had “ordered the Israeli security establishment to provide their counterparts in the UAE with any assistance” that could help to protect against future attacks.

The United Arab Emirates is part of the Saudi-led military coalition that has been waging a destructive war on Yemen for more than six years. 

'War crime'

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a member of Yemen's Supreme Political Council, reacted to the Saudi airstrikes against residential neighborhoods in Hudaydah, saying they amount to a “war crime” and are “not forgivable.”

“You should not have continued your aggression and crimes until the present day, if the bombing campaign had worked out,” Houthi addressed Saudi Arabia and its allies in a post published on his Twitter page.

“God willing you will lose in Yemen, just like (the United States of) America, which is arming and aiding you, in Afghanistan…”

‘Saudi-led coalition’s despair’

Hudaydah Governor Muhammad Ayyash Qahim said the latest airstrike exhibited the level of the Saudi-led coalition's despair and frustration. 

“The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and their mercenaries will be held to account for the crimes they have perpetrated against ordinary citizens,” he added.

Qahim said such acts of aggression will not deter Yemeni people from mobilizing forces and participating in the fight against Saudi-paid mercenaries.

On Thursday night, Saudi warplanes carried out a wave of aerial attacks on the Yemeni capital city of Sana’a as well, but there were no immediate reports about possible casualties and the extent of damage.

UN chief alarmed 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday expressed alarm at the continued Saudi airstrikes in Sana’a, Hudaydah and elsewhere in Yemen.

“The secretary-general reiterates his call on the parties to exercise maximum restraint and prevent any escalation amid heightened tensions in the region, as well as to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a daily press briefing.

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg has just left Riyadh after concluding a visit to Saudi Arabia. He met Saudi Vice Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman and other Saudi interlocutors, Dujarric said.

During his meetings, Grundberg denounced the recent wave of military escalation, including the heavy airstrikes on Sana’a. 

Saudi Arabia, backed by the United States and regional allies, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi back to power and crushing the Ansarullah movement.

The war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead and displaced millions more. It has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases there.

Despite heavily-armed Saudi Arabia’s incessant bombardment of the impoverished country, the Yemeni armed forces and the Popular Committees have grown steadily in strength against the Saudi-led invaders and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.

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