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Yemen rebels blast Saudi justification for deadly strike on school bus

The UN said initial reports point to more than 60 casualties. [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 August, 2018

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Yemen's Houthi rebels have blasted the Saudi-led coalition's justification for an airstrike on a school bus in north Yemen that killed at least 29 children on Thursday.
Yemen's Houthi rebels have blasted the Saudi-led coalition's justification for an airstrike on a school bus in north Yemen that killed at least 29 children on Thursday.

Houthi spokesman Muhammad Abdel Salam condemned the coalition's defence that the attack was a "legitimate military action" targeting rebels who launched a missile attack on the Saudi city of Jizan on Wednesday.

"The aggressors' justification for this crime is clearly making a mockery of the lives of the killed civilians," Abdel Salam said, according to the Houthis' al-Masirah news website.

"Those targeted were children on a bus and shoppers and pedestrians on a public road," he added.

The head of the Houthis' supreme revolutionary committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, blamed the United States and the United Kingdom for the attack, citing the countries' arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition.

Houthi also backed a United Nations call for a probe into the airstrike in Saada province that hit a bus carrying civilians, many of them school children, in a busy market in Dahyan district.

In a statement after Thursday's airstrike, UN chief Antonio Guterres called for an "independent and prompt investigation."

The UN said an exact death toll has yet to be confirmed but initial reports point to more than 60 casualties, with dozens severely wounded.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said its team received the bodies of 29 children, all under 15 years old, and treated 48 wounded, 30 of them children.

Al-Masirah TV reported on Friday at least 51 killed, including 40 children, and 79 injured in the airstrike, citing the Yemeni Health Ministry in the capital, Sanaa, which is under rebel control.

Following the strike, al-Masirah broadcast horrific images of lifeless bodies of children, covered in blood, and others who appeared severely wounded, lying on hospital stretchers crying and screaming in pain.

The US State Department has called on the Saudi-led coalition "to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident".

Impoverished Yemen has been embroiled in the war pitting the Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-aligned Houthis since March 2015.

The coalition has been repeatedly condemned for its indiscriminate air campaign that has targeted wedding parties and funerals, killing scores of civilians.

Civilians have been enmeshed over the years in the conflict which has killed over 10,000, crippled the country's health system and pushed it to the brink of famine.

Yemen has become the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22.2 million people in need of assistance.

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