Four children were among 14 civilians killed in an airstrike on Al-Thabet market in Yemen’s northern Saada province on Monday, according to Houthi authorities, amid conflicting accounts of what happened.
A Houthi-run hospital report, released by spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam, held the Saudi-led coalition responsible for the incident and said it also wounded 26, including 14 children.
In response, coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki told CNN that: “The targeting of Al-Thabet market by the terrorist, Iran-backed Houthi militia is a deliberate attack against innocent civilians.”
The Saudi-backed Yemeni government’s information minister, Moammar al-Eryani, also blamed the explosion on the Houthis in a tweet Monday, and said that the rebels used Katyusha rockets.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Yemen said it was “disheartened with reports of the killing and injury of children” in a Twitter post.
Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree blamed the Saudis and condemned the attack in a statement.
“The Al-Thabet market crime in the Qataber district in the province of Saada that was committed against civilians proves the failure of the Saudi regime in the military and humanitarian fields as they deliberately committed a massacre against civilians,” Saree wrote.
The conflict in Yemen began in early 2015 when Houthi rebels – a minority Shia group from the north of the country – drove out the internationally-recognized government and forced its president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to flee.
The crisis quickly escalated into a multi-sided war, with neighboring Saudi Arabia leading a coalition of Gulf states against the Houthi rebels. The coalition is advised and supported by the US, among other nations.
The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project found in June that the total number of reported fatalities in Yemen since 2015 is more than 91,000.