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UN, US demand investigation into Saudi bombing of Yemen schoolbus

A Yemeni child awaits treatment after being wounded in the Saudi strike [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 August, 2018

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Both Washington and the UN on Thursday called for urgent investigations into a Saudi airstrike at a market in rebel-held northern Yemen that killed at least 29 children.

The United States and the United Nations called for urgent investigations into a Saudi strike on a school bus at a market in rebel-held northern Yemen that killed at least 29 children, reports said on Thursday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged an "independent and prompt" probe into the horrific incident.

He called "on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the fundamental rules of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack," his spokesman said in a statement, emphasising that "all parties must take constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects in the conduct of military operations."

He also reiterated his call "for a negotiated political settlement through inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue as the only way to end the conflict."

Meanwhile the United States called for a "thorough" investigation following the deadly strike claimed by the Saudi-led coalition.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US was "concerned" by reports of an attack resulting in civilian deaths.

"We are calling the Saudi led coalition to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident," she said.

Nauert added the US takes credible accounts of civilian casualties "very seriously." 

"We call on the parties to take appropriate measures to protect civilians," she said.

Washington received a backlash for its condemnation of the attack, as the US has offered ongoing support for the Saudi offensive on Yemen, which is known to target civilians by bombing weddings, funerals and boats carrying refugees.

A hospital in Saada province supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross "received the bodies of 29 children under the age of 15 and 48 wounded, including 30 children," the organisation announced on Twitter.

A spokesman for the Red Cross in Sanaa told AFP the toll was not final as casualties from the attack were taken to several hospitals.

The coalition defended the attack, saying it carried out "legitimate military action," but claimed that children were inside the bus were "misleading," adding that the bus carried "Houthi combatants," spokesman Turki al-Maliki told AFP.

Saada is a stronghold of Houthi rebels, whom the Saudi-led coalition are fighting in support of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's forces.

The war in Yemen has left more than 10,000 dead since 2015, sparking what the UN says is the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The US has been criticised by many for its support for the Saudis, in the form of arms, intelligence and aerial refueling.

Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted: "By backing the Saudi coalition’s war in Yemen with weapons, aerial refueling, and targeting assistance, the United States is complicit in this atrocity. No one can seriously claim that our support for this war is actually making us safer."

Agencies contributed to this report

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