Saudi-led coalition intercepts Houthi drone attack on Khamis Mushait

Attack occurred a day after missile fired by Yemeni rebels killed 17 people at a petrol station in Marib

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Saudi Arabia intercepted an armed drone launched by Yemen's Houthi militias on Sunday.

The drone aimed at the southern city of Khamis Mushait was shot down before reaching its target, state television channel Al Ekhbariya said.

It contradicted a statement on Twitter by a spokesman for the Iran-supported Houthi militias.

The UAE condemned the attack in a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation.

"These systematic terror attacks by the Houthis reflect their blatant disregard for the international community and all international laws and norms," the ministry said.

It urged the international community to take "an immediate and decisive stance to stop these recurrent acts, which target critical infrastructure and threaten the security and stability of the kingdom, as well as global energy supplies".

A Saudi Arabia-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognised government from the capital Sanaa.

The group has repeatedly targeted Khamis Mushait with drones and ballistic missiles as well as other Saudi cities along the border with Yemen.

The coalition says it intercepts most assaults.

On Saturday, a Houthi missile struck a petrol station in Yemen's northwestern city of Marib, killing 17 civilians.

Fourteen of them were killed by the initial blast as they queued for fuel, a health worker in the city told The National.

After striking the station, the rebels then attacked two ambulances with a booby-trapped drone, killing three people.

In March, the World Food Programme sounded the alarm on Yemen's severe fuel problem that has been causing people to queue in long lines at overcrowded petrol stations for hours, and sometimes days at a time.

"Acute fuel shortages threaten the availability of clean water and the electricity supply. Health facilities that rely on fuel for generators are without power," it said in the appeal.

The Houthis were listed as a State Sponsor of Terror by the Trump administration in its last days in office – a move that curtailed access to funds for the group but had a negative impact on humanitarian work in Yemen.

Nonetheless, the Houthis have continued attacks against Saudi Arabia and pressed a major offensive in the north of the country around the government stronghold of Marib.

US President Joe Biden delisted the Iran-backed group within the first few weeks in office.

Following Saturday's attack, Yemeni Minister of Information Moamer Al Eryani spoke out against the group calling on US and UN officials to place the Houthis back on the terror list.

"This heinous terrorist crime is a continuation of a deliberate targeting of residential areas and civilians in Marib by the Houthi militia to inflict high casualties among civilians," Mr Al Eryani wrote on Twitter.


Gallery: the ongoing conflict in Yemen