Saudi-led coalition says airstrikes that killed Yemeni children 'legitimate'

Image      An ICRC-supported hospital received many dead and wounded Red Cross says

The bus had been travelling through a busy market in Dahyan district, northern Saada, at the time of the raid, which Houthi rebels' Al Masirah TV reported killed 39 and wounded 51, "mostly children".

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was sending supplies to ICRC-supported hospitals to support an influx of casualties.

Saudi Arabia said it shot down a rebel missile, with shrapnel leaving a Yemeni resident dead and 11 wounded.

The United States 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.

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam accused the coalition of showing "clear disregard for civilian life" by targeting a crowded public place.

"Today's attack in Saada was a legitimate military operation. and was carried out in accordance with global humanitarian law", the Arabic-language statement said.

Saudi Arabia's air defense forces intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile launched towards the Kingdom's southwestern Jizan region by Yemen's armed Houthi militias, on Wednesday.

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 global humanitarian law".

It accused the Houthis of using children as human shields.

The UN children's agency UNICEF said it was "very concerned with the initial reports of children being killed" with UNICEF's resident representative in Yemen, Meritxell Relano saying that he is witnessing the "horror the images and videos coming from Saada..."

The coalition denied responsibility for those attacks.

The following year, a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia intervened in the conflict.

The fighting and a partial blockade by the coalition has also left 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid, created the world's largest food security emergency, and led to a cholera outbreak that is thought to have affected a million people.

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