Saudi-led coalition air strikes have killed dozens of people including at least 29 children travelling on a bus in Yemen's northern Saada province, Yemeni medical sources and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have said.
In a statement Thursday, the Saudi-led coalition said the strike was a "legitimate military action to target elements that planned and carried out" an attack that targeted civilians in Jizan, a border city in southwest Saudi Arabia.
"Targeting Saudis and residents in Saudi is a red line", coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki later told Al Arabiya TV.
A man carries a wounded child to the hospital Thursday after the Saudi-led coalition carried out an airstrike on a crowded area in Houthi-controlled Saada province.
The airstrike hit a bus that was ferrying civilians, including many school children, the elders said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
"A hospital supported by our team in Yemen received the bodies of 29 children under the age of 15 and 48 wounded, including 30 children", the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) tweeted.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), an outspoken critic of the United States' support for the Saudi coalition, expressed fury over the attack and demanded once again that lawmakers end their complicity in the war. Its last air strike in Yemen was July 24 against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, she said, adding that the command seeks to help partners mitigate civilian casualties. "The Secretary-General emphasizes that all parties must take constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects in the conduct of military operations".
The Save the Children 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 driver stopped to get a drink".
"We trust when they say that they will investigate that they will investigate".
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UNICEF said in a statement that "many children were reportedly killed and injured" in the attack and that all of the children were reportedly under the age of 15.
Most of the children were inside the bus when the airstrike hit, according to a local medic, Yahya al-Hadi.
"We are unable to verify the details at this moment", Save the Children wrote on August 9.
Houthi media broadcast graphic footage appearing to show the bodies of children.
Saudi Arabia and Sunni Muslim allies have been fighting in Yemen for more than three years against the Houthis, who control much of north Yemen including the capital Sanaa and drove the government into exile in 2014.
Col. Al-Maliki stressed: "The Coalition will take all necessary measures against the terrorist, criminal acts of the Iranian-Houthi militias, such as recruiting child soldiers, pushing them into battlefields and using them as shields for their terrorist acts".
Fragments from a missile launched at the Jizan Industrial City in southern Saudi Arabia late on Wednesday killed one Yemeni civilian and wounded 11, Saudi state media said earlier on Thursday.
Yemeni tribal leaders told the AP the Saudi-led USA -backed coalition fighting Shiite Houthi rebels was behind the airstrike.
Wednesday'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.