The United Nations Security Council is calling for an investigation into Thursday’s Saudi-led airstrike that hit a school bus in Yemen and killed dozens of children, many under the age of 10.
A field trip
Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 in an attempt to sway the outcome against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who took control of Yemen in an uprising and now say they are fighting to defend the country from outside attack.
The children were on a field trip when their bus was struck at a market, the first stop of the day, killing 50 and injuring 77, according to the Houthi-controlled Health Ministry.
Most of the children were inside the bus when the airstrike hit, according to a local medic, Yahya al-Hadi.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said a hospital it supports in Saada had received 29 bodies of “mainly children” under 15 years of age, and 40 injured, including 30 children.
Asked why the Security Council statement did not mention the word “independent,” UK Ambassador Karen Pierce, serving as this month’s council president, said the council will hold talks with the UN and others to determine how any investigation would proceed.
The UN secretary-general called for an independent investigation on Thursday. The Saudi-led coalition said Friday that it would start its own probe, according to state-run Saudi media.
On Thursday, the Saudi-led coalition defended the airstrike as a “legitimate military operation” and a retaliation for a Houthi ballistic missile that targeted the kingdom’s Jizan province on Wednesday night, according to the country’s official news agency.
“The targeting that happened today in Saada province was legal military action to target elements that planned and executed the targeting of civilians in the city of Jizan last night, killing and wounding civilians,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted Col. Turki al-Malki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, as saying.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday that the US doesn’t have full details of the Saudi-led strike and called for a “thorough investigation.”
The US supplies Saudi Arabia with data for targeting and equipment.
“We don’t have the full details of what happened on the ground,” Nauert said Thursday. “We’ve seen reports. We can say we’re concerned about these reports, that there was an attack that resulted in the deaths of civilians. We call on the Saudi-led coalition to conduct… an investigation.”