Shrapnel injures at least 12 passengers and workers at Saudi international airport after Houthi drone is shot down above the terminal
- Twelve were injured at Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport by shrapnel from the drone
- Several travellers and workers of various nationalities were hit by debris
- The Houthis often target Abha airport, which lies close to the Yemeni border
- Most drones are intercepted but a few people have been killed and several injured in some successful strikes
- It is the latest incident in a protracted conflict between the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition fighting them
Twelve people were injured at Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport by shrapnel from a Houthi drone which was shot down over the airport terminal by air defences on Thursday.
The Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis said the injured included travellers and workers of various nationalities, in comments given to Saudi state news channel Ekhbariya.
The Houthis often target Abha airport, which lies close to the Yemeni border in Saudi Arabia’s south, and other parts of the country with drones and missiles.
Most are intercepted but a few people have been killed and several injured.
The coalition meanwhile regularly carries out air strikes on what it says are Houthi military targets in Yemen.
The United Arab Emirates, a coalition member, twice in January said its forces destroyed a Houthi ballistic missile launch area in Yemen, after unprecedented drone and missile attacks on the UAE this year claimed by the Houthis.
The Houthis have come under pressure in recent weeks and are suffering heavy losses as Yemeni forces, allied and backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have pushed back the rebel group in key southern and central provinces of the country.
Air traffic operations returned to normal after standard safety procedures were carried out, the coalition said.
Twelve people were injured at Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport by shrapnel from a Houthi drone which was shot down over the airport terminal by air defences on Thursday (pictured: another Houthi drone shot down last year)
The Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis said the injured included travellers and workers of various nationalities, in comments given to Saudi state news channel Ekhbariya (pictured: remnants of a drone as used in a Houthi rebels attack on Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia’s southern Asir province last year)
The Houthis often target Abha airport (pictured), which lies close to the Yemeni border in Saudi Arabia’s south, and other parts of the country with drones and missiles
The incident comes just weeks after authorities in UAE banned recreational drone flying in the wake of several drone attacks by Houthi rebels, one of which killed three people and wounded six in Abu Dhabi.
A fire broke out at an extension of Abu Dhabi’s main international airport and three fuel tanker trucks exploded in the wake of the attacks in the Musaffah area near the storage facilities of ADNOC, Abu Dhabi’s state-owned oil company, on January 17.
The Musaffah area, 13 miles from the centre of Abu Dhabi city, also has an oil pipeline network and 36 storage tanks, from which transport trucks carry fuel nationwide.
One Pakistani national and two Indian nationals were killed after the fuel trucks exploded, UAE state news agency WAM reported, citing the police.
The six people who were wounded in the attack suffered mild and medium injuries, officials added.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, claimed on the same day that they had launched the attack.
The UAE has been at war in Yemen since early 2015, and was a key member of the Saudi-led coalition that launched attacks against the Iranian-backed Houthis after the group overran the capital of Yemen and ousted the internationally backed government from power.
In response to the strike, the Saudi-led coalition has escalated attacks on the rebel-held parts of Yemen in the last week.
While the UAE has largely withdrawn troops from the stalemated conflict with Houthi rebels, the country continues to be a major player and supports local militias on the ground.
The black smoke could be seen rising up into the air following the drone attack in Abu Dhabi in January
A fire broke out at an extension of Abu Dhabi’s main international airport and three fuel tanker trucks exploded in the Musaffah area near the storage facilities of ADNOC, Abu Dhabi’s state-owned oil company, on Monday, Jan 17
Video footage from Abu Dhabi shows a black plume of smoke rising up into the sky from the area of one of the reported drone attacks.
Military spokesman Yahia Sarei of Yemen’s Houthi movement said the group launched a military operation ‘deep in the UAE’ and took responsibility for the attack,.
The Iranian-backed Houthis have claimed several attacks that Emirati officials later denied took place, but UAE authorities recognised drone involvement in the Abu Dhabi incident before introducing an area-wide ban on drone flying.
As of Saturday, Jan 22, drone hobbyists and other operators of light electric aircraft face ‘legal liabilities’ if caught flying the objects, the Interior Ministry said, adding it may grant exemptions to businesses seeking to film.
Government regulations in the UAE already restrict flying drones in residential areas as well as near, around and over airports. Drone users typically must obtain a certificate from the civil aviation authorities.
Why are there tensions between the UAE and Yemen’s Houthi rebels?
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been at war in Yemen since early 2015, and was a key member of the Saudi-led coalition that launched attacks against the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels after the group overran the capital of Yemen and ousted the internationally backed government from power.
UAE and its allies believe the Houthis are tools for Iran to seize control of Yemen, though the Houthis deny they are backed by Tehran.
Although the UAE has decreased the number of troops it has on the ground since 2019, it continues to be actively engaged in the war and supports key militias fighting the Houthis. It also cooperates closely with the United States in counter-terrorism operations in Yemen.
Pro-coalition forces backed by the UAE have recently joined fighting against the Houthis in Yemen’s energy-producing regions of Shabwa and Marib.
Yemen’s government-aligned forces, aided by the UAE-backed Giants Brigades and with help from Saudi airstrikes, reclaimed the entire southern province of Shabwa from the Houthis earlier this month and made advances in nearby Marib province.
The Houthis have claimed previous attacks on Abu Dhabi’s airport, as well as the emirate’s Barakah nuclear power plant – claims that Emirati officials have denied in the past.
The Houthis have used bomb-laden drones to launch crude and imprecise attacks aimed at Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the course of the war. The group has also launched missiles at Saudi airports, oil facilities and pipelines, as well as used booby-trapped boats for attacks in key shipping routes.
The ongoing conflict in Yemen, now in its seventh year, pushed the small nation into a humanitarian crisis that has cost tens of thousands of lives and forced millions of people onto the brink of starvation.
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