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Children among dozens killed in Yemen air strike

09 August 2018

At least 20 people have been killed in an airstrike which hit a bus carrying children in northern Yemen.

The Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television quoted a statement by the Saudi-led coalition as saying that "Thursday's airstrikes targeted Iranian-allied Houthi rebels who fired a ballistic missile on Wednesday at the Saudi commercial city in border Jazan region".

He accused the rebels of using children as "tools and covers for their terrorist acts".

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam said the coalition showed "clear disregard for civilian life" as the attack had targeted a crowded public place in the city.

"Our shops were open and shoppers were walking around as usual".

A Reuters photographer saw bloodied and bandaged children being treated by doctors.

The attack was also denounced by the United Nations children agency, UNICEF.

Yahya Shaem, head of the Houthi-held health office in Saada, told CNN that the children in the bus were on their way to their summer camps.

White plastic body bags filled the floor of a room in the ICRC-supported hospital.

"Following an attack this morning on a bus driving children in Dahyan Market, northern Saada, (an ICRC-supported) hospital has received dozens of dead and wounded", the organization said on Twitter without giving more details.

The Saudi government issued a statement on August 9 and described the strike as "a legitimate military action" and was "conducted in conformity with the worldwide humanitarian law".

Saudi Arabia backs Yemen's internationally recognized government and has been at war with the Houthis since March 2015. Errant strikes have killed hundreds of civilians at hospitals, schools and markets. "This is why we need an independent investigation into attacks on civilians so that perpetrators can be held to account", Ghaly added.

The alliance says it does not intentionally target civilians and has set up a committee to probe alleged mass casualty air strikes, which has mostly cleared the coalition of any blame.

"This is yet another example of the blatant violations of worldwide humanitarian law that we have seen in Yemen over the past three years-from indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians, denial of access to humanitarian aid and the use of starvation as a weapon of war-it's the people of Yemen, not the warring parties, who are paying the ultimate price", said Sylvia Ghaly, director of advocacy in Yemen for Save the Children.

"(The air strikes) conformed to global and humanitarian laws", the coalition statement said, quoting spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki.

"The interception resulted in projection of fragments throughout some residential areas, which caused the martyrdom of a Yemeni resident, and injuries among 11 civilians", the Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthis in Yemen's civil war said in a statement reported by SPA on Thursday.

Children among dozens killed in Yemen air strike