Crime

Houthi missile attack on Saudi airport injures 26

At least 26 civilians have been injured in a missile attack by Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement on an airport in south-west Saudi Arabia, the military says.

Three women and two children were among those hurt when the arrivals hall at Abha airport was hit early on Wednesday, according to a statement.

The rebels said they had launched a cruise missile at the facility.

Saudi Arabia leads a coalition of Arab states backing Yemen’s government in its four-year war with the Houthis.

Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in March 2015, when the rebels seized control of much of the west of the country and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad.

Alarmed by the rise of a group they believed to be backed militarily by regional Shia power Iran, Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states began an air campaign aimed at restoring Mr Hadi’s government.

Coalition military spokesman Col Turki al-Maliki said a projectile fired by the Houthis hit Abha International Airport at 02:21 on Wednesday (23:21 GMT on Tuesday), according to a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Col Maliki said the attack on a civilian airport, which is about 110km (70 miles) from the border with Yemen, was a violation of international humanitarian law and that it might constitute a war crime.

The coalition would “take urgent and timely measures to deter this terrorist militia, and to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian objects,” he added.

Col Maliki said work was under way to identify the type of projectile involved, but Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV cited rebel military spokesman Brig-Gen Yahia Sari as saying it was a cruise missile.

“The latest US systems could not intercept the missile. This strike spread panic and fear among enemies and caused a great confusion in their side,” he added.

Al-Masirah said it was the second time the Houthis had fired a cruise missile. The first reportedly targeted a nuclear power plant under construction in Abu Dhabi in 2017. There were no reports of a missile reaching the emirate at the time.

The rebels have carried out numerous cross-border missile and drone attacks in the past. But it is rare for them to cause so many civilian casualties. –BBC

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