Saudis intercept second attack by Yemen’s Houthis on Abha airport
Saudi Arabia's Abha international airport was attacked by Yemen's Houthis for a second time this week on Thursday, ratcheting up already high tension in the region.
The Iran-aligned Houthis claimed the attack early Friday, and Saudi Arabia confirmed it, saying its air forces had intercepted five unmanned drones heading towards Abha airport and the nearby city of Khamis Mushait, which houses a major air base.
The incident followed a rocket attack on the airport's arrivals hall on Wednesday that wounded 26 civilians, including two children.
The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen had vowed to respond firmly to the cruise missile attack, and air strikes were reported in the Houthi-held Yemeni capital Sanaa on Thursday.
According to a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency, coalition spokesperson Colonel Turki al-Maliki said that air traffic and airspace at the airport continue to operate normally, with no delay in flights and passenger traffic.
Maliki said the Houthis “failed to achieve any of their irresponsible and hostile objectives” and that Saudi Arabia has “a legitimate right to take appropriate deterrence measures”.
The Saudis did not report any casualties in the new assault.
The twin attacks came amid rising tensions in the Gulf of Oman as Washington accused Iran of attacking two tankers in the strategic route on Thursday.
Tehran denies responsibility for the attack, which has driven up oil prices and triggered fears of a new confrontation in the restive region.
The western-backed coaliton 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 in Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.
The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis deny being puppets of Iran, saying their revolution is against corruption.
The Houthis have claimed many cross-border attacks since the start of the conflict in 2015, with hundreds of Saudi soldiers believed to have been killed.
Coalition air strikes on Yemen over the past four years have killed thousands of people, mostly civilians, and left more than two-thirds of the population at the brink of famine.