Yemen war: Saudis to probe children bus deaths air strike

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in the conflict in Yemen in 2015, in an attempt to restore the internationally recognised government to power after it was driven out by Houthi rebels in the capital.

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki defended the attack on Saada on Thursday as a "legitimate military action" and blamed the Houthis for recruiting children and using them in the battlefields to cover for their actions.

"Parties to the conflict and those who have influence over them, including Security Council members, can and should choose to end this catastrophe for the sake of Yemen's children", Mrs Fore said.

The council did not specify in the agreed statement to the press that the investigation should be independent - a demand that United Nations secretary general António Guterres made in a statement condemning the attack on Thursday.

Saudi warplanes struck Houthi positions in Yemen in retaliation for a missile attack in Jizan which killed one civilian on Thursday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Yemen, Nevio Zagaria, said it has deployed emergency supplies.

USA and other Western powers provide arms and intelligence to the alliance, and human rights groups have criticised them over coalition air strikes that have killed hundreds of civilians at hospitals, schools and markets. "The attack on civilians is not acceptable".

It was unclear how numerous dead in total were children and how many air strikes were carried out in the area, in northern Yemen, near the border with Saudi Arabia.

"We closely coordinate with them", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Hussain al Bukhaiti joins TRT World from Sanaa, and explains why the civilian casualty count of the latest Saudi air strike was so high.

Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdul-Salam said the coalition showed "clear disregard for civilian life" as the attack had targeted a crowded public place in the city.

A senior official in the Arab Coalition backing legitimacy in Yemen has said that the leadership of the coalition has seen what the media and some of the sites of relief organizations operating in Yemen have reported about the Saada incident.

It was not immediately clear whether the bus was the target of the air strike, but coalition spokesman Col Turki al-Malki said the attack was "a legitimate military action, conducted in conformity with worldwide humanitarian law".

The coalition said Wednesday's attack brought the tally of rebel missiles launched since 2015, the year it joined the Yemeni government's fight against the rebels, to 165. The coalition said it had intercepted and destroyed the missile but its fragments killed one person and wounded 11 others in Saudi's southwestern border region of Jizan.

The Houthi-controlled health ministry said almost 30 children were killed. "Are they part of the elements responsible for the attack [last night], I think that question should be asked of the Houthi and they need to answer it".

Saada has come under strikes from the coalition as the mountainous province makes battles hard for pro-government ground troops.

The Yemen war has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than two million and driven the country to the verge of starvation, according to the United Nations.

  • Rogelio Becker