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Air strike on Yemen prison leaves more than 200 dead or wounded

An image grab from a Huthi handout video shows the aftermath of the overnight Saudi-led coalition strike on a telecommunications hub in Yemen’s rebel-held port city of Hodeida

More than 200 people were killed or wounded in an air strike on a prison and at least three children died in a separate bombardment as Yemen’s long-running conflict suffered a dramatic escalation of violence on Friday.

The Huthi rebels released gruesome video footage showing bodies in the rubble and mangled corpses from the prison attack, which levelled buildings at the jail in their northern heartland of Saada.

“The children were reportedly playing on a nearby football field when missiles struck,” Save the Children said.

The United Arab Emirates, part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels, threatened reprisals.

Two other hospitals have received “many wounded” and as night fell, the rubble was still being searched, the aid agency said.

Ahmed Mahat, Doctors Without Borders’ head of mission in Yemen, said: “There are many bodies still at the scene of the air strike, many missing people.”

The UN Security Council, meeting Friday at the request of non-permanent member the United Arab Emirates, unanimously condemned what it called the Huthis’ “heinous terrorist attacks in Abu Dhabi… as well as in other sites in Saudi Arabia”.

The coalition claimed the attack in Hodeida, a lifeline port for the shattered country, but did not say it had carried out any strikes on Saada.

– ‘Collapse of internet’ –

Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when the Huthis descended from their base in Saada to overrun the capital Sanaa, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene to prop up the government the following year.

On January 3, the Huthis hijacked a United Arab Emirates-flagged ship in the Red Sea, prompting a warning from the coalition that it would target rebel-held ports.

The attack — the first deadly assault acknowledged by the UAE inside its borders and claimed by the Huthis — opened up a new front in Yemen’s war and sent regional tensions soaring.

Yemen’s civil war has been a catastrophe for millions of its citizens who have fled their homes, with many close to famine in what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

UAE presidential adviser Anwar Gargash warned the country would exercise its right to defend itself after the Abu Dhabi attack.

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