CAIRO — Fighter jets from a U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition struck a security complex in the western Yemeni city of Hodeidah late Saturday night, killing at least 43 and injuring scores more, according to Yemeni officials and local news reports.
Many of those killed were inmates being held in prisons on the site, located in the city’s al-Zaydiya enclave. Hodeidah, a port city on the Red Sea, is held by the rebel Houthis, who also control the capital, Sanaa, and much of northern Yemen.
Saba, the government news agency, reported that 43 were killed and that dozens were wounded. According to other news reports, the death toll is at least 60. Images of bodies covered in blankets, purportedly from the attacks, were shown on local news channels and on social media.
In a statement, the Saudi-led alliance said the Houthis were using a building at the complex “as a command and control center for their military operations” and said “targeting protocols and procedures were followed fully.”
In Yemen’s civil conflict, which began in March 2015, the Houthis are aligned with loyalists of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Saudi-led coalition, backed by the United States and other Western powers, is trying to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, to power.
Hadi was driven into exile last year, and he is now based in the southern port city of Aden. Saudi Arabia’s Sunni Muslim monarchy entered the war in large part because of concerns of Iranian influence in the region. That Shiite theocracy is widely perceived to be backing the Shiite Houthi rebels.
The airstrikes in Hodeidah come on the same day Hadi rejected a new U.N. peace proposal that would have sidelined him and given the Houthis prominent roles in a new government.
More than 10,000 people have died in the conflict, many of them civilians who were killed by Saudi-led coalition bombings, according to the United Nations. Millions more are suffering from hunger, illness and displacement as the nation is now in the throes of a humanitarian disaster.
Earlier this month, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed more than 100 people, most of them civilians, when warplanes targeted a funeral hall in Sanaa. The coalition later claimed responsibility, saying that the bombings were a result of receiving faulty information.
Speaking after meeting U.N. envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, Hadi said that the agreement would “reward” the Houthis and that it “only opens a door towards more suffering and war and is not a map for peace,” according to the Saba news agency.