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Saudi-led coalition says deadly Yemen raid hit rebels, not school

Paris-based Doctors Without Borders said 10 children were killed and 28 wounded on Saturday in coalition air strikes on a school in Haydan, a town in rebel-held Saada province. In photo: Yemenis inspect the rubble of a house in rebel-held capital. Photograph: (AFP)

Reuters Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Aug 14, 2016, 11.47 AM (IST)
The Saudi-led coalition today denied targeting a school in Yemen's rebel-held north in an attack that an international relief agency said killed 10 children.

"The coalition denied targeting a school," coalition spokesman General Ahmed Assiri said in an English-language statement to AFP. 
"The aircraft has bombed a training camp for the coup militias in Saada," he said, referring to the Iran-backed Huthi rebels which he accused of using "children as recruits".

The Paris-based Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said 10 children were killed and 28 wounded on Saturday in coalition air strikes on a school in Haydan, a town in rebel-held Saada province.

MSF spokeswoman Malak Shaher told AFP that the casualties the agency received at a field hospital were all under 15 and the "victims of air strikes on a Koranic school in Haydan".

But Assiri said the Yemeni government had confirmed to the coalition that "there is no school in this area".

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

"When jets target training camps they cannot distinguish between ages" of recruits, Assiri said.

The Saudi Press Agency said previously that coalition warplanes struck a Huthi "training centre" on Saturday in Saada, killing several insurgents, including a leader it identified as Yehya Munassar Abu Rabua.

Assiri said that MSF's toll only "confirms the Huthis practice of recruiting and subjecting children to terror."

"They recruit children and use them as scouts, guards, messengers and fighters," he said, noting previous reports from Human Rights Watch on rebels recruiting children.

"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."

(AFP)
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