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Dozens of Yemeni schoolchildren are dead Thursday after an air strike by the US -backed, Saudi-led coalition hit a school bus that was carrying them through a crowded market.

The International Red Cross says the airstrike hit a bus full of children, parked in a busy market in Dahyan, in Sa'ada province - controlled by the Houthis.

The ICRC said on its Twitter account that its medical team at the ICRC-supported hospital in Saada had received the bodies of 29 children, all under 15 years old.

"Our non-combat support focuses on improving coalition processes and procedures, especially regarding compliance with the law of armed conflict and best practices for reducing the risk of civilian casualties", the statement added.

Dramatic images of wounded children, clothes and school bags smeared with blood were aired by the Al Masirah TV, reported AP.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged an "independent and prompt" probe, while State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington was "calling the Saudi led coalition to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident".

Last week, the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes struck the gate of al-Thawra hospital and adjacent fish market in Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, killing 52 civilians and wounding 102 others.

It accused the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Shiite rebels on the side of the government of hitting the bus in an air strike.

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Citing "local officials", the head of the worldwide aid group's delegation in Yemen says that in total at least 50 people died and dozens more were injured.

"The Coalition will take all necessary measures against the terrorist, criminal acts of the terrorist Iranian-Houthi militia, such as recruiting child soldiers, throwing them in battlefields and using them as tools and covers to their terrorist acts", coalition spokesperson Col.

Thursday's heavy toll sparked calls from both United Nations chief and the US State Department for the strike to be investigated. Video footage, which CBS News can't independently verify, appear to show the devastating aftermath.

In March 2015 Saudi Arabia and other Arab states intervened on against the Houthis, and are continuing to do so. The bus was ferrying local civilians, including many children, according to Yemeni tribal leaders who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Reuters reported that the militants have fired dozens of missiles into the kingdom in recent months, often intercepted by Saudi forces.

Impoverished Yemen, on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is now in the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22.2 million people in need of assistance.

"This latest air strike, only a week after the attacks on Hodeida city, demonstrates a continued disregard for human life and suffering", said Johan Mooij, the agency's country director in Yemen.

Nearly 10,000 people - two-thirds of them civilians - have been killed and 55,000 others injured in the fighting, according to the United Nations.


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