Yemenis search for survivors in the remains of Saada prison. (Photo credit: AFP)
Internet services were restored in Yemen on 25 January, after airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition on telecommunications infrastructure caused a four-day outage.
The air raids on telecom towers in the port city of Hodeidah on 20 January coincided with an attack on a prison in Saada, which left at least 90 people dead and wounded more than 200, according to the latest figures released by the Yemeni Health Minister.
The internet outage directly affected emergency operations after the vicious attack, as rescuers dug through the rubble for survivors, and hospitals in Saada were overwhelmed.
On 24 January, cybersecurity watchdog NetBlocks said the internet was being restored in the country and several social media users and correspondents in Sanaa and Hodeidah reported they were back online shortly after midnight.
“Connectivity collapsed after a series of deadly airstrikes. The incident severely limited independent media and human rights monitoring efforts,” NetBlocks said.
For their part, the Saudi-led coalition has denied bombing the prison, alleging the facility in Saada province was “not included” on a no-target list agreed with UN agencies.
Inmate Muhammad al-Khulaidi, who suffered a broken leg and burns during the attack, told Reuters that he managed to pull himself from the rubble while some of his cell mates were killed.
“I was trying to free my leg from under the pillar and the warplane continued to bombard us,” he told reporters, before adding: “I tried, I tried, and I removed the debris from under my leg, and I got out. I could not help my friends because my leg was broken.”
Riyadh’s airstrikes last week followed a rare drone-and-missile assault by the Yemeni army on the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, which drew threats of reprisals.
Two more ballistic missiles were intercepted over Abu Dhabi on 24 January by Emirati and US air defense systems.