Saudi-led coalition air strikes on Thursday killed 50 people, including children traveling on a bus through a market, in Saada [Sa’dah] province, Yemen, according to Health official and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The coalition denied targeting civilians. In a statement it said that the air strikes targeted missile launchers used to attack the southern Saudi city of Jizan on Wednesday, killing a Yemeni civilian there. The coalition accused the Ansar Allah (Houthis) of using children as human shields and said the strikes were carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law.
Ansar Allah 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.
The ICRC said a strike hit the bus driving children in Dahyan market.
The ICRC Yemen said in its twitter account: “Our medical team has received: – the bodies of 29 children, all under 15 years old. – 48 injured people, among them 30 children.”
“Body parts were scattered all over the area, and the sounds of moaning and crying were everywhere,” said Hassan Muwlef, executive director of the Red Crescent office in Saada, who arrived an hour after the attack Thursday morning. “The school bus was totally burned and destroyed.”
Bodies were burned beyond recognition, while many of the injured were riddled with shrapnel, he added.
Johannes Bruwer, head of the delegation for the ICRC in Yemen tweeted: “Scores killed, even more injured, most under the age of ten. @ICRC_ye sending additional supplies to hospitals to cope with the influx.”
Dr Nevio Zagaria, Representative of The World Health Organisation in Yemen, tweeted: “I am extremely saddened by what happened in Saada. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones. WHO has already deployed emergency supplies and is ready to support the victims with ambulances and referral and trauma care. The attack on civilians is not acceptable. #Yemen.”
“No excuses anymore!” Geert Cappelaere, Unicef’s regional director in the Middle East and North Africa, said on Twitter. “Does the world really need more innocent children’s lives to stop the cruel war on children in Yemen?”
“We have seen a worrying rise in these incidents and no action has been taken to hold the perpetrators to account,” the aid group Save the Children said in a statement. The group’s Yemen director of advocacy, Sylvia Ghaly, said Thursday’s attack was “yet another example of the blatant violations of international humanitarian law that we have seen in Yemen over the past three years.”
Last week, Yemeni medical officials said the coalition conducted airstrikes in the rebel-held port city of Hodeida, killing at least 28 people and wounding 70. But the coalition denied carrying out any attacks in the city, saying it follows a “strict and transparent approach based on the rules international law.”
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies intervened on Government’s side in 2015 against the Ansar Allah which ruled over the most populous areas including the capital Sana’a. Saudi-led coalition is supported and armed by US, UK and France.
The war has killed more than 10,000 people, mainly by the Saudi coalition, displaced more than 2 million.
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