Dozens of children die in attack on Yemeni school bus

Residences in Jizan hit by the shrapnel after Saudi Royal Air Defense Forces intercepted a ballistic missile launched by the Houthi rebels. SPA

A Saudi-led coalition battling in Yemen said it carried out a deadly attack in the rebel-held north on Thursday, which the Red Cross said hit a bus carrying children.

The Saudi-led coalition, in a defiant statement, has described the massacre as a "legitimate action" to target missile launchers used by Houthi Ansarullah fighters to target the southern Saudi city of Jizan.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the coalition air strike and called on all parties to spare civilians and "to respect their obligations under worldwide humanitarian law, in particular the fundamental rules of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack", U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.

The ICRC said in its tweet: "Under global humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict".

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the United States did not have the "full details of what happened on the ground" but said "we're concerned about these reports".

The missile was sacked from the rebel-held Yemeni province of Amran towards Jizan, the coalition said.

Thursday's attack marks a grim milestone in a war that lately has seen yet another escalation, as coalition-backed Yemeni government forces have made a recent push to reclaim the key port city of Hodeidah from rebels.

The attack, the spokesperson said, was retaliation for a missile fired into Saudi Arabia Wednesday, killing one and injuring 11 more.

CNN reported that dozens of children under the age of 15 were killed in the attack, and many more were injured, according to reports from Yemeni officials and the Red Cross.

It accused the Houthis of using children as human shields and said the strikes were carried out in accordance with worldwide humanitarian law.

The children were traveling on a school bus that was hit by a Saudi coalition airstrike in Dahyan, the BBC reported.

Houthi media broadcast graphic footage appearing to show the dead bodies of children.

On Wednesday, a Saudi-led coalition spokesman Col.

"We call on the Saudi-led coalition to conduct.an investigation", Nauert said.

Reporters at the scene said it was unclear why the bus was targeted, noting that there are no military installations anywhere near the market.

Alarmed by the rise of a group they saw as an Iranian proxy, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and seven other Arab states intervened in an attempt to restore the government.

The Houthis have launched a series of missile strikes on the kingdom, including the capital, Riyadh, over the past year.

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.

Nearly 10,000 people - two-thirds of them civilians - have been killed and 55,000 others injured in the fighting, according to the United Nations.

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