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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has condemned the drone attack by Houthis on a residential area in the Saudi city of Abha and termed it a violation of international laws and serious threat to regional peace.

Condemning the attack, a Foreign Office statement issued here on Sunday also expressed solidarity with the government of Saudi Arabia in its ongoing fight against terrorism.

“Pakistan has noted with serious concern the drone attack by Houthis on the Saudi city of Abha,” the FO statement said, adding: “We commend the government of Saudi Arabia, especially the Royal Defence Force, for timely intercepting and destroying the drone before it could cause any serious damage.” It said the news of injuries to Saudi nationals and expatriates, as well as damage to properties as a result of falling debris of the drone remained a matter of concern for Pakistan.

Islamabad expresses solidarity with Riyadh in its fight against terrorism

On Friday, the Royal Air Defence Force shot down a Houthi drone targeting civilians in a residential area of Abha, about 230km north of the border with Yemen, according to Al-Arabiya TV. Col Mohammad Al-Assami, a spokesman for the Directorate of Civil Defence in Asir region of Saudi Arabia, said four Saudis, a woman among them, and an Indian expat were injured by the falling debris. Six vehicles and a number of houses were damaged.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition force Col Turki Al-Maliki later warned the Houthis and asked them to stop targeting civilians. He had said the coalition would take all measures in accordance with the international humanitarian law to counter such threats.

The FO statement said the Pakistan government reiterated its full support and solidarity with the leadership, government and people of Saudi Arabia against any threats to its territorial integrity and Harmain Sharifain. “Such attacks targeting the unarmed civilian population are a clear violation of international law and pose a serious challenge to regional peace and security. We condemn them in the strongest terms and stand in solidarity with the Saudi government in fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” it added.

Saudi Arabia and its allies entered the war in Yemen in 2015 after the Houthis drove the internationally recognised government into exile. The coalition accuses Iran of supplying the Houthis with arms, drones and missiles. Both Iran and Houthis deny the allegations.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2019