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UN humanitarian coordinator urges investigation into Yemen students’ deaths blamed on airstrike

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen called Monday for an investigation into the deaths of 11 civilians including students in the capital Sana’a, where rebels accused a Saudi-led coalition of carrying out a deadly airstrike.

Scores more civilians were wounded in Sana’a on Sunday, April 7, according to a statement released by the U.N. that did not specify the cause of the casualties.

An AFP reporter on the ground said the injuries appeared to be the result of an explosion near a school in the city.

Graphic videos and photos posted on social media appeared to show the aftermath of a large explosion, with reports saying the victims were female students.

The coalition, which regularly carries out air strikes against the rebels, denied conducting any raids on Sana’a on Sunday.

Five students were among the dead, according to the U.N., whose humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, voiced alarm at the “terrible, senseless deaths and injuries.”

“Every effort must be made to understand the circumstances that led to this tragedy,” she said.

“Protecting people and protecting civilian infrastructure are core principles of international humanitarian law,” she added. “Even as we are struggling to address the worst food security crisis in the world and one of the worst cholera outbreaks in modern history, these principles are being violated.”

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, locked in a war with Saudi Arabia and its military allies backing the government, on Sunday accused the coalition of bombing that they said killed more than 13 people and wounded 90.

The coalition, which has come under international pressure over its air strikes in Yemen, accuses the rebels of routinely using civilians as human shields.

Last week the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said two children were killed and eight others wounded when a student brought an exploded bomb to a school in the Hamdan district of the capital.

The World Health Organization estimates nearly 10,000 Yemenis have been killed since 2015, when Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened to prevent the defeat of the government in the face of a rebel offensive.

Human rights groups say the real death toll is several times higher.

The conflict has pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of mass starvation, in what the U.N. has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

With reporting from AFP

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