PV Vancouver Bureau
The bomb dropped on a school bus in Yemen on August 9 by a Saudi-led coalition warplane was by the US, according to analysis of the debris. The UK Guardian reports that the attack killed 40 boys aged 6 to 11 who were being taken on a school trip. Eleven adults also died. Local authorities said that 79 people were wounded, 56 of them children. CNN reported that the weapon used was a 227kg laser-guided bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of many thousands sold to Saudi Arabia as part of billions of dollars of weapons exports.
Saudi Arabia is the biggest single customer for both the US and UK arms industries. The US also supports the coalition with refuelling and intelligence. The investigative journalism site Bellingcat identified bomb fragments, on photographs and videos taken soon after the bombing, as coming from a laser-guided version of a Mk-82 bomb called a GBU-12 Paveway II. Bellingcat traced the bomb to a shipment approved by the U.S. state department in 2015, during the Obama administration.
A spokesperson for Lockheed Martin referred questions about the bombing to the Pentagon. The defence department has said it does not make tactical targeting decision for the Saudi-led coalition but does provide support to improve targeting.
After the bombing of a funeral hall in October 2016 that killed 155 people, Barack Obama halted the sale of guided munition technology to Saudi Arabia, on the grounds that improved precision would not save civilian lives if the Saudi-led coalition were not taking care to avoid hitting non-military targets. The sales were reinstated by the Trump administration’s first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, in March 2017.
According to the most recent report by the UN high commission for human rights, there have been 17,062 civilian casualties in the Yemen war since 2015, including 6,592 dead and 10,470 injured. The majority of these casualties – 10,471 – were as a result of airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.