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At least 29 children killed in strike on Yemen bus

AFP  |  Sanaa 

A strike on a bus in rebel-held northern killed at least 29 children today, the said, as the Saudi-led coalition faced a growing outcry over the attack.

The coalition said it had carried out what it called "legitimate action" in the area targeting Huthi rebels responsible for a deadly missile attack on the Saudi city of yesterday.

But the International Committee of the said the strike hit a bus filled with children in the Huthi stronghold of Saada, causing dozens of casualties.

"A hospital supported by our team in received the bodies of 29 children under the age of 15 and 48 wounded, including 30 children," the ICRC said on A for the in told AFP the toll was not final as casualties from the attack were taken to several hospitals.

The Huthis' Al-Masirah TV, quoting the rebel health ministry, reported that 50 people were killed and 77 wounded, "mostly children", though it was not possible to verify that toll.

International aid agencies denounced the attack and the loss of civilian lives. "Under international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict," the ICRC said.

Geert Cappelaere, the UN Children's Fund regional director in the and North Africa, said all the children on the bus were "reportedly under the age of 15". "Does the world really need more innocent children's lives to stop the cruel war on children in ", he added.

The charity, quoting its staff, said that at the time of the attack the children were on a bus heading back to school "from a picnic when the stopped to get a drink".

"condemns this horrific attack and is calling for a full, immediate and independent investigation into this and other recent attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure," it said.

(MSF) said in a tweet that it was "deeply saddened" by the strike.

The coalition, which also includes the United Arab Emirates, intervened in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government after the rebels drove it out of the capital

shot down a missile fired by the Huthis on Wednesday, with debris killing a Yemeni man and wounding 11 others, the coalition said. The missile was fired from the rebel-held Yemeni province of Amran towards Jizan, the coalition said.

"The coalition will take all necessary measures against the terrorist, criminal acts of the Huthi militia, such as recruiting child soldiers, throwing them in battlefields and using them as tools," coalition said, referring to Thursday's attack.

The Huthis have in recent months ramped up missile attacks against Saudi Arabia, which usually says it intercepts.

Yesterday's attack brings the tally to 165 rebel missiles launched since 2015, according to the coalition, which that year joined the Yemeni government's fight against Huthi rebels.

On August 2, attacks on a hospital and a fish market in the strategic rebel-held port city of killed at least 55 civilians and wounded 170, according to the ICRC. The coalition denied responsibility for those attacks.

Aid agency noted that air strike came a week after the attacks "This latest air strike, only a week after the attacks on city, demonstrates a continued disregard for human life and suffering," said Johan Mooij, the agency's in Yemen.

"It is beyond cruel; innocent children's lives have been lost." The war in the impoverished country has left nearly 10,000 people dead and unleashed what the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, told the last week that "a political solution" to end the war in Yemen was "available" and that the warring sides would be invited to talks on September 6 in

UN-brokered negotiations on Yemen broke down in 2016 amid demands for a rebel withdrawal from key cities and power-sharing with the Saudi-backed government.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, August 09 2018. 22:00 IST