CAIRO (AP) — An airstrike by a Saudi-led coalition Wednesday killed at least 10 civilians, including six children and two women, in the mountainous northern Yemeni province of Jawf, Houthi rebels and a rights activist said.
The Houthi-run Health Ministry said the airstrike took place in Masafa village east of the provincial capital of Hazm, which the rebels took in March from forces of Yemen's internationally recognized government.
At least three adults and four children were also wounded, the ministry said in a statement. The wounded were taken to the al-Thawra hospital in the capital of Sanaa for treatment, it said.
There was no immediate comment from the Saudi-led coalition, which has frequently drawn international criticism for errant airstrikes that have hit schools, hospitals and wedding parties, killing thousands of civilians.
Activist Omar al-Nomeim, from the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights in Jawf, told The Associated Press that the airstrike in Jawf hit civilian houses in the village and that most of the causalities were children and women.
The victims were celebrating the circumcision of a week-old boy, who was one of those killed in the attack, the ministry said. Youssef al-Hadri, a spokesman for the ministry, shared graphic photos showing wounded children on hospital beds with bandages on their bodies.
The attack came after an airstrike in the northwestern Hajjah province killed at least seven children and two women Sunday, according to the U.N. humanitarian office in Yemen.
The humanitarian group Save the Children condemned the airstrikes amid amid an escalation of violence in recent weeks in the war-torn country.
“These attacks not only threaten children lives directly, but also the lifesaving humanitarian work and efforts to battle the coronavirus outbreak which many health workers say is spreading out of control amid minimal testing,” said Xavier Joubert, Save the Children’s country director in Yemen.
Yemen has officially recorded at least 1,530 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, including 692 deaths. However, the actual tally is believed to be much higher as testing capabilities are severely limited.
The charity said the airstrikes also came after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last month took the Saudi-led coalition off a global blacklist of parties whose actions have harmed children in conflict. The move drew immediate protests from human rights groups.
Yemen’s conflict erupted late in 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels swept across much of the north and seized the capital, Sanaa, forcing the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile. The following year, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states formed a coalition to take on the Houthis in what they said was an effort to stop Iran's growing sway in Yemen.
The conflict has killed more than 100,000 people and created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, with more than 3 million people internally displaced and two-thirds of the population relying on food aid for survival.