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Saudi coalition air attack kills 12 in Yemen, including seven children

Medics say attack in on house in Hodeidah killed members of same family, while coalition says it 'takes report very seriously'
Saudi F-15s perform a fly past over Riyadh. The Saudi coalition said it would investigate reports of the bombing in Hodeida fully (AFP)

An air strike by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen killed 12 civilians, including seven children, in the costal city of Hodeidah on Monday, medics and a witness said.

Medics and a witness who saw the wreckage said the air strike had destroyed a house in al-Hali district, where displaced civilians from other provinces were settled.

The 12 victims were all from the same family, they said. Pictures shared on social media - too graphic to republish, showed the remains of several small children and a baby among those killed.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition told Reuters: "We take this report very seriously and it will be fully investigated as all reports of this nature are - using an internationally approved, independent process.

"While this is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

The coalition repeatedly denies it has committed war crimes in Yemen, and its investigations have been slammed by human rights campaigners as not credible.

"No coalition member can claim clean hands in Yemen until all its members explain their role in scores of documented unlawful attacks,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, last year.

"It borders on the absurd for the coalition to claim its own investigations are credible when it refuses to release even basic information like which countries participated in an attack and whether anyone has been held accountable.” 

Hodeidah is home to the impoverished country's biggest port from where most of the humanitarian aid reaches millions of civilians on the brink of famine.

The operation of the port, controlled by the Iran-aligned Houthis, was not affected by the air strike.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in a civil war in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis to restore the internationally recognised government of President Abd Rabbuh Hadi.

The alliance, which includes other Sunni Muslim states, has conducted thousands of air strikes targeting Houthi fighters and has often hit civilian areas, although it denies ever doing so intentionally.

The war has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than two million and driven the country - already the poorest on the Arabian Peninsula - to the verge of famine.