World Media

KSA: 26 civilians injured as cruise missile hits Abha airport this morning

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attend a session of the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland

An attack by Yemen's Houthi militia on the Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabi has left 26 persons injured.

Though there were no fatalities, it was the largest number of civilians to be injured in Saudi Arabia as a result of an attack by the rebels since the start of the Saudi-led war in Yemen more than four years ago.

"Thank God, the missile directly hit the observation tower in the airport causing it to be out of service and leading to suspension of flights there", Saree said as quoted by the website of Ansarullah revolutionary movement. Three women and two children were among the wounded, who were of Saudi, Yemeni and Indian nationalities, it said.

Bukhati said a cruise missile was used in the airport attack and claimed it was the second use of such a missile by the Houthis after the group deployed one previous year to hit a nuclear power station being constructed in the United Arab Emirates. Turki Almalki, the coalition's spokesman said. Reuters could not independently verify the claim.

Last month, the Saudi air force shot down a rebel drone that targeted Jizan airport on the Red Sea coast close to the Yemeni border, the coalition said.

Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Palestine, Djibouti and many other countries were unanimous in calling it a terror attack and affirmed their full solidarity with Saudi Arabia.

As in that strike, the Saudi-led coalition was quick to accuse its regional rival Iran of orchestrating Wednesday's attack, saying that the attack could amount to a war crime. It would take "urgent and timely" measures in response, it said.

Accusing Iran of arming the rebels, they said the attack "proves this terrorist militia's acquisition of new special weapons".

"There are concerns over rising tension in the Middle East region", Abe he said before departing for Iran.

A Houthi military spokesman on Tuesday threatened that the group would target every airport in Saudi Arabia and that the coming days would reveal "big surprises".

Wednesday's missile strike hit the civil airport in the mountain resort of Abha, which is a popular summer getaway for Saudis seeking escape from the searing heat of Riyadh or Jeddah. "This is one sign of how the war has backfired on Saudi Arabia". The Houthis deny being puppets of Iran and say their revolution is against corruption.

"The latest U.S. systems were unable to stop the missile".

The rebels have stepped up drone and missile attacks on the kingdom amid tensions between Shia power Iran and the United States, Saudi Arabia's main ally. In March 2018 an Egyptian was killed in Riyadh by missile shrapnel.

The US Embassy in the Kingdom said on Twitter that it condemns "in the strongest possible terms the Houthi attack on innocent civilians at Abha airport".

Al-Masirah said it was the second time the Houthis had fired a cruise missile.

The uptick in violence comes as a UN-led peace push falters despite the rebels' unilateral withdrawal from the lifeline Red Sea port of Hodeida last month.

Rouhani indicated that Japan would like to continue buying Iranian oil, which is now penalized by several layers of USA sanctions, although it is unclear whether Japan intends to go forward with the purchases.

The incident comes as efforts to defuse the tension between the US and Iran kick into high gear.