U.N.: 115 children killed since start of Saudi-led Yemen offensive

A man carries a child as they leave a ship which has arrived carrying people fleeing violence in Yemen, at the port of Bosasso in Somalia's Puntland region April 16, 2015. Saudi Arabia and Arab allies have been bombing Yemen for over three weeks to stem the Iran-allied Houthis' progress and have called for defections in Yemen's military. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
REUTERS

SANAA, Yemen -- A United Nations report said on Friday that civilian causalities have mounted since the start of the Saudi-led offensive against Shiite rebels in Yemen, with more than 500 civilians killed in the nearly monthlong conflict, including at least 115 children.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville said 1,185 civilians have been injured between March 26, when the airstrike campaign began, and April 22.

The killings, the agency said, resulted from both airstrikes and armed conflict on the ground between the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, and their allies on one side and tribesmen and militias on the other. The two sides have been engaged in heavy battles in several cities, particularly in the south.

In one incident, the agency said, a bridge was hit twice by warplanes on April 22 in the western province of Ibb killing 40 civilians, including seven children. The deaths included people killed while rushing to help casualties of the first strike only to get hit by the second.

Another large incident, was in Sanaa, the capital, where bombings of Fag Atan mountain, which houses the capital's largest weapon depot, flattened houses and killed at least 20 civilians, the rights office said. The bombings also partially damaged a number of UN offices, including the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Yemen. A day after the strike, medical officials gave The Associated Press an updated toll from the blast, saying 38 civilians were killed.

On March 31, Human Rights Watch said a diary factory came under attack by Saudi airstrikes, killing 31 workers in the western port city of Hodeida and blamed forces of Houthis of putting civilians at risk, saying that the factory is about 100 meters from a military air base controlled by Houthis.

On Friday, airstrikes continued with warplanes bombing civilian sites suspected of being used by Houthis, to store weapons or deploy troops.

Witnesses say that a stadium and small villages near the southern town of Zinjibar were bombed. In the town of Lahj, coalition planes bombed a court house, the headquarters of police commandos and farm lands near the airport in the city of Aden.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's King Salman mobilized the National Guard for the fight in Yemen. CBS News analyst Jere Van Dyk, who spent much of last year in Yemen, says Salman's order is significant, noting that the last time the royal family called up the National Guard to any significant degree was in 1979, when a group of Islamic militants -- with help from Saudi princes and secret cells in the army -- attacked and took over the Grand Mosque in Mecca.