FO condemns alleged firing of ballistic missiles towards Makkah province

May 21, 2019

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Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal speaks to the media at the office in Islamabad. — AFP/File
Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal speaks to the media at the office in Islamabad. — AFP/File

The Foreign Office (FO) on Tuesday condemned the reported firing of ballistic missiles towards the Saudi Arabian province of Makkah by Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Islamabad's condemnation came a day after Saudi Arabia said it had intercepted two missiles in Najran city fired by Yemen’s Houthis, who denied having targeted Islam’s holiest site.

The Foreign Office, in a statement today, issued its condemnation and also commended Saudi forces for their "vigilant" defence.

"Pakistan condemns the firing of ballistic missiles by Houthis towards Makkah province and commends the vigilant Saudi defence forces for intercepting the missiles," read an FO statement.

"Pakistan reaffirms its solidarity with Saudi Arabia and reiterates its support against any threat to the security of the kingdom," it added.

The foiled strike comes at a time of heightened tensions between Tehran and Gulf Arab states and a roughly four-year conflict in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are leading a Western-backed coalition of states that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government ousted from power in Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.

A Saudi coalition spokesman said, “Royal Saudi Defence Forces spotted aerial targets flying through restricted areas in the provinces of Jeddah and Taif and dealt with them as required by the situation,” according to Saudi’s state news agency SPA.

In a tweet, Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington said the two missiles had been intercepted in Makkah province, which includes Jeddah and Taif.

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, citing eyewitnesses, reported on Monday that air defense forces had intercepted two ballistic missiles above the two western cities of Jeddah and Taif and said the first one had been directed toward Makkah, without providing evidence.

The Houthis denied that their missiles were targeting Makkah, a pilgrimage site roughly 70 kilometres (40 miles) from Jeddah and 50km (30 miles) from Taif. The group called the claim a tactic by Saudi Arabia to rally support for its war.

“The Saudi regime is trying, through these allegations, to rally support for its brutal aggression against our great Yemeni people,” Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said on Facebook.

More than two million Muslims from around the world make the annual haj pilgrimage to Makkah. Many also visit the city during the holy month of Ramazan, which is underway.