Map of Yemen locating Saada province, where a bus carrying children was attacked, killing several

Sanaa (AFP) - An attack on a bus carrying children in rebel-held northern Yemen on Thursday left dozens of people dead or wounded, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

“Following an attack this morning on a bus driving children in Dahyan Market, northern Saada, (an ICRC-supported) hospital has received dozens of dead and wounded,” the organisation said on Twitter without giving more details.

“Under international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict,” it added.

The Huthi rebels’ Al-Masirah TV reported that 39 people had been killed and 51 wounded, “mostly children”.

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

It was not possible to verify the toll or who was behind it.

There was no immediate comment from the coalition, which intervened in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government to power after it was driven out of the capital Sanaa by the rebels.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF said it was “very concerned with the initial reports of children being killed”.

“I am watching with horror the images and videos coming from Saada in #Yemen and I have no words. How was this a military target? Why are children being killed?” tweeted UNICEF’s resident representative in Yemen, Meritxell Relano.

Last Thursday, attacks on a hospital and a fish market in the strategic rebel-held port city of Hodeida killed at least 55 civilians and wounded 170, according to the ICRC.

The coalition denied responsibility for those attacks.

Yemen’s war has left nearly 10,000 people dead since 2015 and unleashed what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.