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Dozens feared dead after air strikes hit prisons in Yemen

Published 30/10/2016

The conflict in Yemen has left more than 10,000 dead and injured and displaced nearly 3 million people
The conflict in Yemen has left more than 10,000 dead and injured and displaced nearly 3 million people

Dozens of prisoners and security personnel were feared dead after Saudi-led air strikes battered two jails inside a security headquarters in a Yemen port.

The air strikes hit the al-Zaydiya security headquarters in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida. The building contained two jails and many prisoners along with security forces have been killed in the strikes, security and medical officials said.

The city is under the control of Yemen's Shiite Houthi rebels who seized the capital Sanaa and much of the northern region in 2014. The Houthis' TV network al-Masirah said 43 people were killed in the air strikes but it was not immediately possible to verify its account.

The air strikes came hours after warplanes rained bombs on houses of civilians in the western city of Taiz, killing at least 18 people, including children, earlier on Saturday.

The latest air strikes come at a time when Yemen's president in exile has turned down a UN peace deal aimed at ending the country's devastating conflict, saying it "rewards" Yemen's rebels.

The proposed peace deal gives the Houthi rebels - who forced President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi out of Yemen - a share in the future government. It also reduces some of the president's powers in exchange for a rebel withdrawal from major cities.

Mr Hadi made his remarks during a visit by the UN Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Saturday.

"The Yemeni people have condemned these ideas and the so-called road map out of belief that the deal is a gateway to more suffering and war," he said.

"The ideas presented ... carry the seeds of war. It rewards the coup leaders and punishes the Yemeni people at the same time."

Mr Hadi told Mr Ahmed that peace is only attainable when the rebel "coup" is reversed, based on a UN Security Council resolution that stipulates the rebels must lay down their weapons and withdraw from cities as a precondition to any peace agreement.

A presidency official told The Associated Press that Mr Hadi has come under heavy international pressure to accept the deal.

He said ambassadors of the US, France, China and Russia have held meetings with Mr Hadi and his prime minister in the past 24 hours to press him to accept the deal.

The conflict in Yemen has left more than 10,000 dead and injured and displaced nearly 3 million people.

The Arab world's poorest nation had already been suffering from high rates of malnutrition, and the war and a blockade imposed by a Saudi-led military coalition have pushed the country deeper into starvation and turmoil.

Rights groups have accused the Saudi-led coalition of killing civilians, while trying to target rebels. Weddings, funerals, schools and hospitals have been bombed in the past year.

Witnesses say a car bomb exploded on Saturday in the southern city of Aden at a checkpoint close to the central bank, which had been relocated recently from Sanaa.

The bomb wounded three soldiers and caused panic in the busy commercial district of Crater, the witnesses said.

AP

Press Association

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