Other Yemeni officials and the rebels' health ministry, however, have said that a Saudi-led coalition airstrike was behind Monday's attack in Saada province, a stronghold of the Iran-aligned Houthis.

An injured boy lies on a hospital bed at local Al Jomhouri hospital after air strikes killed civilians in a market in Yemen's Saada province, July 29, 2019.
An injured boy lies on a hospital bed at local Al Jomhouri hospital after air strikes killed civilians in a market in Yemen's Saada province, July 29, 2019. (Reuters)

Yemen's internationally-recognised government says the Houthi rebels were behind a strike on a market that killed at least 14 civilians, including children, and wounded 27.

Other Yemeni officials and the rebels' health ministry, however, have said that a Saudi-led coalition airstrike was behind Monday's attack in Saada province, a stronghold of the Iran-aligned Houthis.

Tuesday's government statement alleged the Houthis launched Katyusha rockets at the al-Thabet market and then attempted to deflect blame by accusing the Saudi-led coalition for the attack.

The statement did not explain why the Houthis would target an area under their control.

AP could not immediately reach the Saudi-led coalition for comment.

Contrasting versions

On Monday, Houthi-run Al Masirah TV reported that the Saudi-coalition were behind the attack.

The manager of the local Al Jomhouri hospital told Reuters that Saudi-led air strikes had killed the civilians.

"There are two children among the martyrs and 11 children among those injured," hospital manager Saleh Qorban told Reuters.

Pictures taken by a Reuters photographer also showed more than nine bodies, some of them torn apart, lined up on a nylon sheet near the morgue.

The spokesman for the coalition did not immediately respond to a request for comment and there was no confirmation from the alliance or Saudi authorities.

Saudi Arabia is leading the Western-backed alliance that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government, which was ousted from power in the capital Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.

The movement has stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi cities, and the coalition has responded with air strikes on Houthi targets, mostly around Sanaa.

In August 2018, coalition air strikes killed dozens of people, including children traveling on a bus through a market in Saada. The alliance initially said it had targeted missile launchers but later admitted that the attack was unjustified.

Human rights groups have criticised Western countries that provide arms and intelligence to the coalition over air strikes that have killed civilians at hospitals, schools and markets. The coalition says it does not intentionally target civilians.

The four-year-old war, which has killed tens of thousands and pushed the long-impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation to the brink of famine, has long been in a military stalemate.

The Houthis, who say their revolution is against corruption, control Sanaa and most of the main urban centres. The government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi holds the southern port of Aden.

The violence could complicate efforts to implement a UN- sponsored troop withdrawal agreement in the main port city of Hudaida meant to pave the way for peace talks to end the conflict, which is largely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Source: Reuters