Military Capabilities

Saudi spokesman says Yemeni prison was not bombed

03 September 2019

Photographs of the aftermath of the airstrike showed it took place at the compound that Col Maliki identified as the weapons storage facility. Source: Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Saudi-led coalition was unaware that prisoners were being held at a facility that it bombed on the night of 31 August-1 September, according to spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki.

The International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent (ICRC) said on 1 September that the facility held about 170 detainees at the time of the attack, 40 of whom were being treated for injuries, with the rest presumed to have been killed when the building collapsed.

The Yemeni rebel group Ansar Allah (Houthis) accused Saudi Arabia of massacring Yemenis who had served as mercenaries on its behalf and were about to be released.

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths called on the coalition to launch an inquiry into what he described as a “horrific incident”.

During his regular press conference on 2 September, Col Maliki showed the locations of the prison in Dhamar, which he said was in the coalition’s database of places that it could not attack, and a compound 7 km to the north that he identified as a storage site for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and air defence equipment.

Col Maliki then showed aerial surveillance imagery of the latter being hit by a coalition airstrike and what he described as secondary explosions that proved it was being used to store munitions.

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