The Saudi-led coalition battling in Yemen said it carried out a deadly attack in the rebel-held north on Thursday, August 9 which the International Committee of the Red Cross said hit a bus carrying children.
In a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, coalition spokesperson Colonel Turki al-Maiki called the strike a “legitimate military action” that targeted elements responsible for a rebel missile attack on the Saudi city of Jizan on Wednesday.
The coalition did not specify the target, but the ICRC said the attack hit a bus filled with children, causing dozens of casualties.
The bus was travelling through Dahyan market in Sa’ada province at the time, the BBC reported.
“Following an attack this morning on a bus driving children in Dahyan Market, northern Sa’ada [an ICRC-supported] hospital has received dozens of dead and wounded,” the organization said on Twitter without giving more details.
Following an attack this morning on a bus driving children in Dahyan Market, northern Sa’ada, @ICRC_yemen- supported hospital has received dozens of dead and wounded. Under international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict. pic.twitter.com/x39NVB8G4p
— ICRC Yemen (@ICRC_ye) August 9, 2018
“Under international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict,” it added.
The ICRC is one of the few international humanitarian organizations operating on the ground in Yemen.
The Houthi rebels’ Al-Masirah TV reported that 39 people had been killed and 51 wounded, “mostly children.”
The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said it was “very concerned with the initial reports of children being killed.”
Graphic photographs and videos posted on social media appeared to show injured children, some severely burned.
Most of those killed were under the age of 10, said Johannes Bruwer, head of delegation in Yemen for the ICRC.
The coalition, which also includes the United Arab Emirates, intervened in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government after the rebels drove it out of the capital Sana’a.
Saudi Arabia said it shot down a missile fired by the Houthis on Wednesday, with debris killing a Yemeni man and wounding 11 others.
The missile was fired from the rebel-held Yemeni province of Amran towards Jizan, the coalition said.
Last Thursday, attacks on a hospital and a fish market in the strategic rebel-held port city of Hodeida killed at least 55 civilians and wounded 170, according to the ICRC.
The coalition denied responsibility for those attacks.
Almost two-thirds of the estimated 10,000 people killed since the conflict began are children, according to the U.N. UNICEF has said that nearly every child in Yemen is in need of humanitarian assistance.
With reporting from AFP