Innocent boys are seen laughing and jostling on school bus during field trip just hours before 40 of them were killed by Saudi-led airstrike that hit the vehicle in Yemen
- Video footage filmed hours before airstrike hit school bus in northern Yemen
- At least 40 children were killed when missile destroyed bus on Thursday
- The missile was fired by Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen
- Thousands gathered for the children’s mass funeral on Monday
Heartbreaking footage of young Yemeni boys laughing and joking around on a field trip, just hours before their school bus was hit by a missile, has emerged today.
At least 40 children were killed in Thursday’s raid which hit the bus as it drove through a market in Dahyan, in Saada province – a rebel stronghold in the north.
The video shows the excited children, aged six to 11, playing around on the bus as they get ready to leave for the field trip, arranged to mark the end of their summer school.
شاهد | اللحظات الأخيرة التي عاشها أطفال #ضحيان #صعدة الطلاب قبل أن تخطف طائرات العدوان أرواحهم وترتكب الفاجعة الكبرى بحق الطفولة 11-08-2018#مجزرة_طلاب_ضحيان#اليمن #Yemen #المركز_الإعلامي_لأنصارالله
للتنزيل على جوالك:https://t.co/Y1Vg7TI9SA pic.twitter.com/amjA2lPvDN
— المركز الإعلامي لأنصار الله (@AnsarAllahMC) 11 août 2018
Heartbreaking: The video shows the excited children playing around on the bus, just hours before it was hit by a missile in Dahyan, Saada province, Yemen, killing 40 of them
The missile was fired by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels in the area.
The airstrike killed 51 people, including 40 children, and injured at least 79, of which 56 were children, according to the Red Cross, citing authorities in Saada province.
‘These were the children that were laughing, playing, acting very excited just a couple of days ago about their field trip. And now they were just mutilated corpses,’
Among those killed in the airstrike were the boy who recorded the video from their field trip, according to CNN.
Lives lost: According to their teacher, the children, all boys aged six to 11, had been looking forward to the field trip for days
Day out: The children had been awarded the field trip to celebrate the end of their religious summer school
Ready to go: Parents are seen dropping off their sons at the school bus before the children left for the field trip
As the video footage emerged, thousands of mourners gathered to bury the young victims in Dahyan today.
Cars bearing the Houthi logo transported the bodies, wrapped in white shrouds, from the hospital to a large square for prayers before heading to the graveyard, where rows of graves were dug on Friday.
People carried pictures of those killed as armed Houthi fighters managed the crowd attending the funeral.
‘My son went to the market to run house errands and then the enemy air strike happened and he was hit by shrapnel and died,’ said Fares al-Razhi, mourning his 14-year-old son.
‘For my son, I will take revenge on Salman and Mohammed Bin Zayed,’ he said, referring to leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Thousands of mourners gathered on Monday to bury the children killed in a Saudi-led coalition air strike on a bus in northern Yemen
A family member and a police man carry the tiny coffin of one of the young victims
The mass funeral was held in Saada city, a stronghold of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels
The Gulf Arab states are leading the alliance of Sunni Muslim countries that intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government that was expelled from the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in 2014.
The coalition said on Friday it would investigate the strike after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and called for an independent probe.
But on Saturday, the Saudi state news agency SPA said Saudi Arabia’s mission to the world body had delivered a message to Guterres reiterating that the military action was ‘legitimate’ and had targeted Houthi leaders responsible for ‘recruiting and training young children’.
The coalition initially said after the attack that the strike had targeted missile launchers that were used by the Houthis to attack the southern Saudi province of Jizan.
Targeted: A Yemeni child stands next to what remains of the school bus at the site of a Saudi-led coalition air strike in Dahyan, Saada province
Burying their friends: Young boys inspect graves prepared for the victims of Thursday’s air strike in Saada province
Heartwrenching: Bloodied children’s UNICEF backpacks lie at the site after the airstrike
The head of the Houthis’ supreme revolutionary committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, attended the funeral and blamed the United States ‘for this crime and all the crimes that have been committed against Yemen’, the Houthi-held al-Masirah TV said.
The United States and other Western powers provide arms and intelligence to the alliance, and human rights groups have criticised them over coalition air strikes that have killed hundreds of civilians at hospitals, schools and markets.
A U.S. military spokeswoman said U.S. forces were not involved in Thursday’s air strike. The U.S. State Department urged the Saudi-led coalition to ‘conduct a thorough and transparent investigation’.
The coalition says it does not intentionally target civilians and has set up a committee to probe alleged mass casualty air strikes, which has mostly cleared it of any blame.
The Houthis have also been criticised by rights groups.
The U.N. special envoy to Yemen has been shuffling between the warring parties ahead of holding consultations in Geneva on September 6 in an effort to end the conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people and pushed the impoverished Arab country to the verge of starvation, according to the United Nations.