Saudi Arabia airport attack: 26 injured after missile strike by suspected Houthi rebels on Abha airport

Harriet Brewis – Evening Standard June 12, 2019

Photo handed out by Houthi rebels of a purported missile strike on Abha airport, Saudi Arabia. Click enlarge

A ‘cross-border terrorist’ attack on a civilian airport in Saudi Arabia has left 26 people wounded, including two children, the Saudi-led coalition has said.

Officials said a missile hit the arrivals hall at Abha International Airport, in the south of the country, wounding three women, two children and 21 others.

Eight people were taken to hospital after the incident took place on Wednesday morning, with the rest treated on site, according to a statement by the coalition.

All victims were reportedly of Saudi, Indian and Yemeni nationalities.

The Iranian-backed Houthi movement are be behind the cruise missile strike on the airport, according to the Houthi-run Masirah TV.

On Tuesday, a Houthi spokesman warned that the group would target every airport in Saudi Arabia and that the coming days would reveal “big surprises”.

The Western-backed Saudi coalition said the attack could amount to a “war crime”, adding it would take “urgent and timely” measures in response.

The airport is about 200 km north of the border with Yemen and serves domestic and regional routes.

The attack follows an armed drone strike last month on two oil-pumping stations in Saudi Arabia, for which the Houthis claimed responsibility.

Saudi officials accused Iran of ordering the drone strike, a charge that Tehran and the Houthi movement deny.

Following Wednesday’s airport attack, the Saudi coalition released a statement saying.”This attack also proves this terrorist militia’s acquisition of new special weapons; the continuation of the Iranian regime’s support and practice of cross-border terrorism; and the continued violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions.”

There was no immediate Iranian response.

The military alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government that was ousted from power by the Houthis in late 2014.

The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

However, the Houthis deny being puppets of Iran and say their revolution is against corruption.

The Houthis have previously targeted Saudi cities with drones and missiles, most of which have been intercepted.

In March 2018 an Egyptian was killed in the capital Riyadh by missile shrapnel.

The Houthi group last month stepped up its attacks following a lull last year ahead of U.N.-led peace efforts.

The coalition has responded in the past by carrying out air strikes on Houthi military sites in and around Yemen’s largest city Sanaa.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said the attack on Abha airport “was a serious escalation carried out by Iranian weapons”.

“A clear and firm international stance is needed against Houthi terrorism and the Iranian support which is available to it,” he said in a Twitter post.

Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation body told Reuters air traffic was currently running normally at the airport.