Saudi-led coalition air strikes on Thursday killed dozens of people, including children traveling on a bus through a market, in Yemen's Saada province, a Yemeni health official and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.
In a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, the coalition called the strike a "legitimate military action" that targeted elements responsible for a rebel missile attack on the Saudi city of Jizan on Wednesday.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said a hospital it supported in Saada had received dozens of casualties on Thursday after the attack.
"Under the global humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict", it added.
The bus was struck as it was driving through a market in the rebel-held province of Saada, according to the Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV.
Asked about the airstrike by the USA -backed coalition, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters "we are certainly concerned".
The assault was the latest in a string of airstrikes to target civilians by an American-backed regional coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
In July, a Badr 1 missile was sacked at Jizan Economic City, where Saudi Aramco is building a 400,000-barrel-per-day refinery.
"Scores killed, even more injured, most under the age of ten", the head of the ICRC in Yemen, Johannes Bruwer, said on his Twitter account, adding that the ICRC in Yemen is "sending additional supplies to hospitals to cope with the influx".
In response, Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam called the coalition statement "absolutely ridiculous".
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.
Earlier, Maliki accused the Huthis of "recruiting child soldiers, throwing them in battlefields and using them as tools".
"No, this is not children in the bus", he said.
The strike was carried out by the Saudi Arabian-led coalition, which is backed in this war by the U.S.
Worldwide rights groups repeated calls for an end to the war and strongly condemned the bus attack and other civilian massacres. Most of the images of the children hit by this airstrike are so gruesome the broadcasting rules don't allow us to show them - but a warning, the report still contains distressing images.
The coalition said Wednesday's projectile, fired toward the southwestern Saudi city of Jizan, was intercepted and destroyed but its fragments caused the casualties.
Col al Maliki said that the coalition targeted the Houthi militia members who were inside the bus and said that they were the planners and operators of the missiles launch pads.
The Houthis have launched a series of missile strikes on the kingdom, including 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.
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