WASHINGTON: The bomb that killed 40 children and 11 others in a Saudi-led coalition air strike on a bus in rebel-held northern Yemen was sold by the United States under a State Department deal with Riyadh.
The numbers on shrapnel, of which images were taken shortly after the attack this month, indicate that it was a laser-guided Mk 82 bomb manufactured by defence contractor Lockheed Martin, CNN said on Friday, citing munitions experts.
Former president Barack Obama banned the sale of precision-guided weaponry to Saudi Arabia after it used a similar bomb in an October 2016 attack that killed 140 people at a funeral in the rebel-held capital Sanaa.
But President Donald Trump overturned that ban after taking office in 2017.
Fifty-six children were also among the 79 people wounded in the August 9 strike on Saada province, a rebel stronghold that borders Saudi Arabia, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The coalition has promised an internal inquiry but analysts and aid groups have voiced doubt that it is ready to provide the transparency and accountability demanded by the wider international community.
It is part of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, a conflict that has killed nearly 10,000 people since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 as Houthi rebel fighters closed in on the last bastion of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government.
Coalition commanders have admitted a small number of mistakes, but there has been no public disciplinary action or changes to the rules of engagement.
The commanders have accused rebels of using civilians as human shields.
Separatists attack military academy in Aden
Southern separatists opened fire on a military academy graduation ceremony in Yemen’s port city of Aden on Saturday, killing a cadet and wounding at least two others, witnesses said.
The incident is the latest in a series of killings and bombings in the southern city, the temporary headquarters of the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was expelled from the capital Sanaa in 2014 by the armed Houthi group.
One academy officer said southern separatist forces fighting alongside a Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis had opened fire from their mountain base across from the academy.
“When the graduation ceremony began they opened fire with machine guns because the academy had flown the unification flag of Yemen,” he said.
Another witness said two people had been injured and that the ceremony was moved inside, and cut short.
The rising tension between the southern separatists, who are allied with the United Arab Emirates, and Hadi’s government comes ahead of UN-sponsored consultations between the warring Yemeni parties next month in a bid to end the more than three-year-old conflict.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia are leading a Sunni Muslim Arab coalition that intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015 to unseat the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement and restore Hadi’s government.