SANNA The remains of victims and children’s clothing were strewn across a market in northern Yemen on Friday, as the US and UN called for an investigation into an air strike the previous day by a Saudi-led coalition that killed 29 children on a bus.
Thursday’s strike on a bus filled with children at the Dahyan market in the Houthi rebel stronghold of Saada injured at least 48 others, including 30 children, according to the International Committee for the Red Cross.
An AFP photographer at the scene said the bus carrying the children had been turned into a mass of twisted metal, and that the remains of victims and their personal items were scattered across the ground.
“There are remains everywhere, we are still trying to confirm identies,” Yahya Shayem, a health official in Saada, told AFP.
He could not confirm when funerals for the victims would take place.
The coalition that has been fighting Yemen’s rebels since 2015 acknowledged responsibility for the strike, but claimed the bus was carrying “Houthi combatants”.
It said the coalition had carried out a “legitimate military action”, targeting a bus in response to a deadly missile attack on Saudi Arabia on Wednesday by Houthi rebels.
Thursday’s heavy toll sparked calls from both United Nations chief and the US State Department for the strike to be investigated.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged an “independent and prompt” probe, while State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington was “calling the Saudi led coalition to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident”.
“We call on the parties to take appropriate measures to protect civilians,” Nauert said.
‘Massacre of children’
A spokesman for the Red Cross in Sanaa told AFP the toll was not final as casualties from the attack were taken to several hospitals.
“We need blood,” said Jameel al- Fareh, an emergency room doctor at Saada’s Al-Jumhuri hospital, calling on local people to donate blood to treat the wounded.
Ahmed al-Mansouri, the hospital’s director, condemned what he called the “massacre of children”.
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 Sanaa.
Coalition spokesman Turki al- Maliki told AFP that claims by aid organisations that children were inside the bus were “misleading”, and that “the elements inside the bus were Houthi combatants”.
He said the rebels have “ballistic missiles threatening our national security, Saudi cities and villages on the border. The attack today was a follow-up process to neutralise that threat”.
Earlier, Maliki accused the Houthis of “recruiting child soldiers, throwing them in battlefields and using them as tools”. Saudi Arabia shot down a missile fired by the Houthis 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 the Saudi
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