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Declarations of outrage were followed by demands for an immediate investigation on Thursday after reports that the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition slaughtered dozens of innocent civilians, including many children traveling on a school bus, when it bombed an area near a crowded market in Yemen.
The International Committee of the Red Cross reported on Twitter that its medical team had received “the bodies of 29 children, all under 15 years old” and was treating “48 injured people, among them 30 children.”
The school bus that was bombed was reportedly carrying children back to religious education classes after a picnic near the city of Dahyan, according to reports from Save the Children and Al Jazeera. Local journalists reported seeing “body parts scattered” at the scene.
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.
“Save the Children condemns this horrific attack and is calling for a full, immediate and independent investigation into this and other recent attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals,” said the group in a statement. “We have seen a worrying rise in these incidents and no action has been taken to hold the perpetrators to account.”
Health officials in Saada told Al Jazeera that 43 people were killed and 61 were wounded in the attack, the majority of whom were children.
According to Al Jazeera, the Saudi coalition claimed it had targeted “missile launchers,” but Yemen-based reporters who have witnessed numerous attacks in civilian-populated areas vigorously disputed the claim.
“The place is known to be a market, [and] there is no military installation nearby… but the Saudis are known to have done this many times—target schools, weddings and so on,” Nasser Arrabyee told Al Jazeera.
In April, the coalition killed at least 20 Yemeni civilians—including a bride—when it bombed a wedding party. As Al Jazeera reported, a third of the 258 attacks carried out by Saudi and UAE forces in June targeted non-military sites.
In a rare show of attention to the war that’s been going on since March 2015, killing and injuring 15,000 civilians and plunging the country into what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, MSNBC briefly covered the attack and noted that the Saudi coalition is backed by United States, which supplies fuel and intelligence to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the coalition’s war on the Houthi rebels in support of the Yemeni government.
But on social media, critics noted that other coverage of the air strike in the US and Britain—which also supports the coalition—failed to acknowledge the countries’ involvement in the war.
International rights groups repeated calls for an end to the war and strongly condemned the bus attack and other civilian massacres.
“This is yet another example of the blatant violations of international humanitarian law that we have seen in Yemen over the past three years—from indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians, denial of access to humanitarian aid and the use of starvation as a weapon of war—it’s the people of Yemen, not the warring parties, who are paying the ultimate price,” said Sylvia Ghaly, director of advocacy in Yemen for Save the Children.
“There is no military solution to this conflict,” she added. “Only a political solution can bring the war to an end and reinstate peace in Yemen. We urge all parties to agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities, return to the negotiation table to commit to a ceasefire and cooperate with the U.N. Special Envoy Martin Griffiths. Spare the Yemeni people more death and misery.”
As award-winning journalist Iona Craig noted last week, such slaughter and barbarity is nothing new when it comes to the U.S. and Saudi role in Yemen: