ICRC says 130 presumed dead in Saudi-led airstrike on Yemen prison

Local Red Crescent medics carry the body of a victim following airstrikes on a prison in central Dhamar province, Yemen, Sept. 1, 2019. (Xinhua/Mohammed Mohammed)

At least 130 prisoners are presumed dead when a Saudi-led airstrike hit a detention facility in Yemen’s central province of Dhamar, according to ICRC.

SANAA, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) — At least 130 prisoners were presumed dead when a Saudi-led airstrike hit a detention facility in Yemen’s central province of Dhamar, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement on Sunday night.

“The facility held around 170 detainees and 40 them were being treated for injuries. The rest are presumed dead, though the death toll has not been confirmed,” it said.

“It will likely take several days to locate all the bodies,” the statement added.

The statement came hours after an ICRC delegation travelled from the capital Sanaa to the scene in Dhamar to help remove bodies from the rubble and assist treating the injured.

“Witnessing this massive damage and seeing the bodies lying among the rubble were a real shock,” Franz Rauchenstein, head of the ICRC delegation, said in the statement after visiting the scene.

The Houthis said in a statement that the detainees who died were Yemeni government soldiers captured during battles in several front lines. They added that the detention facility’s location was known by the ICRC and the Saudi-led coalition.

The airstrikes took place before dawn on Sunday.

Dhamar is about 100 km south of the capital Sanaa. Both Dhamar and Sanaa, as well as several other northern provinces have been under Houthi’s control since late 2014 after they forced Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government into exile.

Saudi Arabia has been leading an Arab military coalition against Iran-allied Houthis in Yemen for more than four years in support of the internationally-recognized government of Hadi.

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