Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit a school bus and a market in northen Yemen. The coalition said the strikes were legitimate and accused Houthi rebels of using children as human shields.
An airstrike in Yemen on Thursday was reported to have killed between 20 and 43 people, many of them children.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Yemen reported that following an attack on a bus driving children near Dahyan Market in the northern province of Saada, dozens of dead and wounded had been taken to a hospital it supports. The area is a Houthi-rebel stronghold.
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
The ICRC noted via Twitter: “Under international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict.”
Houthi-run Al Masirah TV in the capital Sanaa gave a higher toll for the attack, saying 39 people were killed and 51 — mainly children — were wounded. TV images of children being taken out of a bus into a hospital were shown.
Youssef al-Hadri, a spokesman for the Houthi-controlled health ministry said most of those killed were under 15 years of age. The ICRC said most of the victims were under the age of 10.
Robert Mardini of the ICRC wrote on Twitter that it was “high time for these relapsing tragedies to stop in Yemen.”
It is high time for these relapsing tragedies to stop in #Yemen. No one should allow putting children in harm’s way and making them pay such an unacceptable price. Proud of @ICRC_ye and #Yemeni health teams in Saada doing their utmost to save lives. https://t.co/Tx9WW3Y5Kg
— Robert Mardini (@RMardiniICRC) August 9, 2018
In a statement from the Saudi-coalition carried by the state news agency SPA, Colonel Turki al-Malki said the Saada airstrikes on Thursday were aimed at missile launchers which had been used to attack Jizan, an industrial city in southern Saudi Arabia.
Accusing the Houthis of using children as human shields he said “”(The air strikes) conformed to international and humanitarian laws,” the the Arabic-language statement said, according to Reuters.
“The coalition will take all measures against criminal and terrorist acts by the Iran-affiliated Houthi militia, such as recruitment of children and using them in the battlefield as tools and cover for their terrorist acts,” al-Malki said.
Abdul-Ghani Nayeb, of the Saada health department told Reuters that the death toll from Thursday’s attack had risen to 43, with 61 wounded.
There were further airstrikes reported on the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Thursday. Details of casualties and damage are still to come.
Attacks on economic targets have become more frequent in Yemen in recent months.
Last week, there was an attack on a fish market in the port city of Hodeidahwhich killed at least 55 civilians and wounded 170, according to the ICRC. The city is a key point of entry for international aid supplies.
The country’s infrastructure has been severely damaged in the three years of conflict between Saudi Arabia with its Sunni Muslim allies and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Previous airstrikes have hit water supplies, further endangering a population facing a cholera epidemic.
More than 22.2 million people in the impoverished country on the tip of the Arabian peninsula are in need of assistance in what has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.