Dozens of Yemeni children below the age of 15 were killed in a Saudi coalition airstrike on a bus they were travelling in at Dahyan Market in northern Sa’ada province early on Thursday.
Youssef al-Hadri, a spokesman for the health ministry, which is controlled by the Houthi rebels, told dpa that 39 people, most of them children, were killed and 43 others were injured (pictured – Courtesy: Al Masirah) in the attack.
Al-Hadri said the toll is likely to rise as most health facilities in the province had been destroyed in the coalition bombardments over the past three years.
The bus was heading to a summer school when a coalition fighter jet targeted it.
Al Masirah, a TV station run by the Houthi rebels, blamed the coalition forces for the attack.
The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed the deaths of children. In a tweet, Red Cross said one of the hospitals it supports received dozens of dead or wounded children adding that under the international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict.
The coalition’s spokesman Col Turki al-Malki defended the airstrike saying it was a legitimate response to ballistic missile launches by the Houthi rebels targeting civilians in Jizan.
Houthis have repeatedly accused the Saudi-led coalition forces of targeting civilians, a charge the latter has always denied.
Last week, a coalition strike killed 55 civilians in the Red Sea city of Hodeida. In December, the Saudi-led air alliance struck the Old Quarter of Saada killing 19 civilians.
Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, is facing famine as the war between Saudi-backed Yemeni government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and Iran-backed Houthis drags towards its fourth year.
Some 60,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the senseless bloodshed so far.
According to UNICEF, the conflict has left more than 5,000 children dead or injured and almost every child in Yemen today needs humanitarian assistance as 400,000 are severely malnourished.