US condemns Houthi ‘terrorist attack’ on Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport

At least 12 civilians injured by shrapnel from shot-down drone

A security officer walks past Saudi Arabia's Abha airport in 2019. The airport, close to the Yemeni border, has become a regular target for the Houthis. Reuters
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The US has condemned what it described as a terrorist attack by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels that struck Saudi Arabia's commercial airport in Abha on Thursday.

At least 12 civilians were injured by shrapnel when a drone was shot down.

“The United States condemns the terrorist attack by the Houthis that struck the commercial airport in Abha, Saudi Arabia, injuring at least a dozen innocent civilians,” said US State Department spokesman Ned Price.

“We wish the victims a full recovery. Repeated attacks of the last several weeks have harmed civilians and civilian infrastructure and undermine international efforts for a peaceful solution to the Yemen conflict and threaten the more than 70,000 US citizens living in Saudi Arabia.”

The injured, who have not been identified, include travellers and workers of various nationalities, said the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen in two statements carried by state media. The coalition is supporting Yemen's government against the Houthis.

“The Houthis have pursued a dangerous pattern of increasingly obstructive and aggressive actions against Yemenis, Yemen’s neighbours, and the international community. As President Biden reiterated in his call to King Salman yesterday, the United States is firmly committed to supporting the defence of Saudi Arabia,” said Mr Price.

“The United States, along with the international community, continues to urge de-escalation of the conflict. The parties should come to the negotiating table to work together and support the new, more inclusive UN-led peace process.”

Houthi attacks have become increasingly common, with air defence teams intercepting rockets and drones on an almost daily basis.

The Houthis also often target Abha airport, which lies close to the Yemeni border in Saudi Arabia's south. Most are intercepted but a few people have been killed and several injured.

The Houthi drone and missile programme has, since the war began in 2015, become increasingly sophisticated. Experts and officials say the Yemeni rebels have been aided by Iran and its main proxy Hezbollah.

Updated: February 11, 2022, 7:08 AM