Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit a school bus and a market in northern Yemen. The coalition said the strikes were legitimate and accused Houthi rebels of using children as human shields.
An airstrike in Yemen on Thursday was reported to have killed 43 people, many of them children.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Yemen reported that following an attack on a bus driving children near Dahyan Market in the northern province of Saada, dozens of dead and wounded had been taken to a hospital it supports. The area is a Houthi-rebel stronghold.
The ICRC noted via Twitter: "Under international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict."
Youssef al-Hadri, a spokesman for the Houthi-controlled health ministry, said most of those killed were under 15 years of age. The ICRC said most of the victims were under the age of 10 and that its team at a hospital in Saada had received the bodies of 29 children.
Robert Mardini of the ICRC wrote on Twitter that it was "high time for these relapsing tragedies to stop in Yemen," adding that "no one should allow putting children in harm's way and making them pay such an unacceptable price."
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the airstrike and called for "an independent and prompt investigation" into the deadly strike.
Saudi-led coalition defends airstrike
In a statement from the Saudi-led coalition carried by that country's state news agency, SPA, Colonel Turki al-Malki said the Saada airstrikes were aimed at missile launchers that had been used to attack Jizan, an industrial city in southern Saudi Arabia.
Accusing the Houthis of using children as human shields, he said the air strikes "conformed to international and humanitarian laws," in the Arabic-language statement, according to Reuters.
"The coalition will take all measures against criminal and terrorist acts by the Iran-affiliated Houthi militia, such as recruitment of children and using them in the battlefield as tools and cover for their terrorist acts," al-Malki said.
There were further airstrikes reported on the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, on Thursday. Details of casualties and damage are still unclear.
Attacks on economic targets have become more frequent in Yemen in recent months.
Last week, there was an attack on a fish market in the port city of Hodeidah, which killed at least 55 civilians and wounded 170, according to the ICRC. The city is a key point of entry for international aid supplies.
The country's infrastructure has been severely damaged in the three years of conflict between Saudi Arabia with its Sunni Muslim allies and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Previous airstrikes have hit water supplies, further endangering a population facing a cholera epidemic.
More than 22.2 million people in the impoverished country on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula are in need of assistance, in what has become the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
jm/rt (AP, Reuters, AFP)