Iran-backed Houthi rebels launched a cruise missile attack on the Abha Airport on Wednesday. The Saudi Arabia airport attack injured at least 26 people, including women and children. According to Saudi-led coalition’s military spokesman Col Turki al-Maliki, the missile was fired by Yemen-based Houthis. It hit the arrival hall of the Abha Airport at 2:21 AM local time on Wednesday.
Women, children wounded in Saudi Arabia airport attack
The attack took place just hours before Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s arrival in Iran. Abe’s historic visit is aimed at diffusing tensions in the region. Fortunately, there were no casualties in the missile attack. Of the 26 injured, eight people were transferred to a nearby hospital while the remaining 18 were treated at the airport itself.
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Among those wounded, there were two Saudi children and three women of Saudi, Indian, and Yemeni nationalities. It’s the largest number of Saudi civilians injured in a Houthi attack since the Saudi-led coalition launched a war against Houthis in Yemen. The official Saudi Press Agency reported that the structure of the Abha Airport also suffered damage.
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The Saudi Arabia airport attack triggered chaos among travelers in the Middle-East. Dozens of flights were either cancelled or delayed on Wednesday.
The Abha Airport is located in the southwest of Saudi Arabia, just 125 miles from the Yemen border. The Saudi-led coalition described it as a “terrorist” attack. Col Turki al-Maliki said the attack proves that the Houthis have acquired “advanced weapons from Iran.” He said it amounts to a war crime as the Houthis targeted civilians rather than military installations.
Abha Airport attack was an act of revenge, say Houthis
According to Al Jazeera, the attack is a clear indication that the Saudi coalition – which has the backing of the US and UK – has failed to achieve its goal of destroying Houthis’ missile capabilities. The Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack and added that they had launched a cruise missile.
The Houthi-run Masirah TV cited a Houthi saying the airport was hit “with precision” and the “latest US systems were unable to stop the missile.” It caused fear, panic, and great confusion in the “enemy” (Saudi) ranks. The Houthis say such attacks are revenge against Saudi Arabia for launching war against Houthis in Yemen and attacking civilian areas since 2015. According to Al Jazeera, the Houthis have planned many more surprise attacks.
Saudi to take strong action against Houthis
Colonel Turki al-Maliki said the Saudi coalition would take “immediate and severe measures” to deter the terrorists and protect civilians and civilian facilities.
The response will be massive! pic.twitter.com/hkPGgomQR6
— Salman Al-Ansari (@Salansar1) June 12, 2019
The conflict between Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition began in Yemen in 2015 after the Houthis took control of a large part of Yemen, including its capital city of Sanaa. The elected president of Yemen was forced to flee to Aden. Since then, the bloody war has caused massive famine and killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians.
The United Nations has described the situation in Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. As per the UN, about 70% of Yemen’s population needs humanitarian aid.
This is not the first time Houthis have carried out terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia. Just a few days ago, the Saudi air defense forces intercepted multiple drones launched by Houthis targeting the Jizan Airport and other locations. The drone attacks caused no casualties or property damage. The attacks came as Saudi Arabia has intensified air strikes on Houthi strongholds in northern Yemen.