Eight injured in drone attack on Saudi Arabia's Abha airport

Published August 31, 2021
Saudi passengers enter the departure terminal of Abha airport, in southwestern Saudi Arabia on Aug 22, 2019. — AP/File
Saudi passengers enter the departure terminal of Abha airport, in southwestern Saudi Arabia on Aug 22, 2019. — AP/File

A bomb-laden drone on Tuesday targeted an airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia, wounding eight people and damaging a civilian plane, Saudi state television reported.

The incident was the latest assault on the Kingdom amid its grinding war in neighbouring Yemen. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the second such strike on Abha airport in the last 24 hours.

The earlier attack, blamed on Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels, scattered shrapnel across the tarmac but caused no casualties. The Houthi military spokesman did not answer calls seeking comment.

The Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen did not elaborate on the assault or provide details about those hurt, beyond saying that its forces had “intercepted” the explosive drone.

The attack comes just days after missiles and drones smashed into a key military base in Yemen’s south, killing at least 30 Saudi-backed Yemeni troops and marking one of the deadliest attacks in the country’s years-long civil war. No one claimed responsibility for the strike, which bore the hallmarks of the Iranian-supported rebels.

Pakistan strongly condemned what the Foreign Office called "the recent attempt by the Houthi militants to target Abha International Airport ... which was intercepted by the Coalition forces".

"We call for immediate cessation of these attacks that violate the international law and threaten peace and security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the region," the FO statement said.

"Pakistan reaffirms its full support and solidarity with [...] Saudi Arabia against any threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Since 2015, Yemen’s Houthi rebels battling the Saudi-led military coalition have targeted international airports, along with military installations and critical oil infrastructure, within Saudi Arabia.

Those attacks, often striking near the southern cities of Abha and Jizan, have rarely caused substantial damage but over the years killed at least one person, wounded dozens and rattled global oil markets.

Within Yemen, the Saudi-led bombing campaign has drawn international criticism for killing civilians, hitting non-military targets like hospitals and wedding parties and devastating infrastructure in the Arab world’s most impoverished nation.

The Yemen war has settled into a bloody stalemate even as international diplomatic efforts to halt the fighting intensify. The Houthis have accelerated their push to wrest control of the oil-rich government stronghold of Marib in recent months and escalated their cross-border attacks on the kingdom.

As the rebels pressed their offensive on Marib, the Yemeni military said it thwarted an attack on the nearby city of Rahbah on Monday.

The raging battles around the critical Marib province in recent months have left thousands of fighters dead, mostly Houthis, and killed 12 government troops on Monday, said a military official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to reporters.

Yemen’s war started in 2014, when the rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, and much of the country’s north. The Saudi-led military coalition intervened months later to dislodge the Houthis and restore the internationally recognised government.

The war has killed some 130,000 people and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.


Additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui in Islamabad.

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