By Celine Alkhaldi and Mostafa Salem, CNN
At least 70 people were killed and more than 130 injured when an airstrike hit a detention center in Yemen on Friday, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said, as the Saudi-led coalition continued to ramp up its deadly offensive on rebels in the war-torn nation.
Another airstrike early Friday hit a telecommunications building in the strategic port city of Hodeidah, causing a nationwide internet blackout, according to NetBlocks, an organization that tracks network disruptions. At least three children were killed in that attack, Save the Children said.
The Norwegian Refugee Council said the internet blackout, which was still ongoing as of Friday evening, would affect aid delivery.
The Iran-back Houthi rebels, who control much of Yemen, blamed the Saudi-led coalition for the strikes. CNN has reached out to the coalition for comment.
A coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched an offensive in 2015 to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized government, after it was ousted by the Houthis. The coalition has intensified its attacks in the wake of a Houthi missile and drone strike in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi earlier this week.
The Houthi-run media outlet Al Masirah showed graphic video of people under rubble in the aftermath of Friday’s detention center strike in the northern Yemeni city of Sa’ada. The Red Cross said it had sent emergency medical supplies to two hospitals that had received a “very high” number of casualties.
“From what I hear from my colleague in Sa’ada there are many bodies still at the scene of the airstrike, many missing people,” said Ahmad Mahat, head of the MSF mission in Yemen. “It is impossible to know how many people have been killed. It seems to have been a horrific act of violence.”
An MSF-supported hospital in Sa’ada has been overwhelmed by an influx of wounded people and cannot receive more, Mahat said. Two other hospitals in the city have also received large numbers of casualties, according to MSF.
International aid groups have been struggling to gather details about the strike because of the internet blackout, multiple aid workers told CNN.
The Saudi-led coalition did not comment on the the strikes on the telecommunications building or the detention center, but said Friday that it had hit the port of Hodeidah, taking down “one of the [Houthis’] dens of maritime piracy and organized crime.”
The coalition also said it attacked “military targets” in the capital Sanaa on Friday, claiming to have conducted the operation “in response to the threat of hostile attacks,” Saudi state-owned SPA said.
“The ICRC is deeply concerned about the intensification of hostilities over recent days, including attacks against cities across Yemen, in Saudi Arabia and in the United Arab Emirates, and deplores the human toll this escalation has caused,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday.
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