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At least 10 children have been killed in an airstrike on school in Yemen

Aid group Doctors Without Borders condemned the attack, saying that all of the children killed were between eight and 15 years old.

AN AIRSTRIKE ON a school purportedly carried out by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen killed at least 10 children and wounded dozens more yesterday, Yemeni officials and aid workers said.

The Islamic school said in a statement that the strike in Saada, deep in the Houthis’ northern heartland, was part of raids that have resumed against the rebels after peace talks collapsed earlier this month.

Aid group Doctors Without Borders condemned the attack on social media, saying that all ten killed and 28 injured were between eight and 15 years old.

The coalition of Arab states has been battling the Huthi rebels since 2015 after the insurgents seized Sanaa before expanding to other parts of the country.

Coalition spokesman General Ahmed Assiri said the strikes hit a Huthi training camp, killing militia fighters, including a leader identified as Yehya Munassar Abu Rabua.

“The site that was bombed… is a major training camp for militia,” he said. “Why would children be at a training camp?”

Yemen’s government had confirmed to the coalition that “there is no school in this area”, he said.

Assiri said MSF’s toll “confirms the Huthis’ practice of recruiting and subjecting children to terror”.

“They… use them as scouts, guards, messengers and fighters,” he said, noting previous reports from Human Rights Watch on the rebels’ use of underage recruits.

“When jets target training camps, they cannot distinguish between ages,” Assiri said.

Children under 15 

MSF spokeswoman Malak Shaher said those killed in the strikes on “a Koranic school” were all under 15.

She called on “all parties to take the measures necessary to protect civilians”.

But Assiri criticised the organisation for overlooking the issue of child soldiers.

“We would have hoped MSF would take measures to stop the recruitment of children to fight in wars instead of crying over them in the media,” he said.

The United Nation’s children agency, UNICEF, also condemned the attack.

It warned that “with the intensification in violence across the country in the past week, the number of children killed and injured by air strikes, street fighting and landmines has grown sharply”.

The rebels posted pictures and videos on Facebook of dead children wrapped in blankets.

Huthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said warplanes “targeted” children at the Jomaa bin Fadhel school, in what he called a “heinous crime”.

The Arab coalition launched air strikes against the rebels on March 26, 2015.

After a three-month pause, it resumed raids on Tuesday, less than 72 hours after UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced the collapse of peace talks.

The UN had voiced concern about the increased fighting over the past week, warning that more than 80% of Yemenis need aid.

- © AFP, 2016

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