The group are said to have targeted the Abha International Airport in the south-west of the country, causing a passenger plane on the tarmac to catch fire
A passenger plane has been engulfed in flames in Saudi Arabia after an airport was targeted in a drone attack later claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The group are said to have targeted the Abha International Airport in the south-west of the country, causing a passenger plane on the tarmac to catch fire, according to the kingdom’s state television.
The Iran-backed Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack soon afterwards, with military spokesman Yehia Sareai saying the group used four bomb-laden drones to target Abha airport.
‘This targeting comes in response to the continued aerial bombardment and the brutal siege on our country,’ Sareai said, noting that the Houthis consider the airport a military not civilian target.
No one was hurt in the assault, but the attack threatened to escalate Yemen’s grinding war and the damaged passenger plane at Abha airport served as a powerful reminder of the danger that Houthi rebels pose to Saudi Arabia.
Nearly six years ago, the kingdom launched a bombing campaign that has devastated Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country.
Photographs aired by Saudi state television showed the aircraft, a 3-year-old Airbus A320 flown by low-cost carrier FlyADeal. It appeared the drone had punched a hole through its fuselage, with scorch marks on the metal.
An anchor on state television said there were no injuries on the ground from the fire. FlyADeal did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
‘A cowardly criminal terrorist attack launched against Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia by the Huthi militia,’ state-run Al-Ekhbariya television cited the coalition as saying.
‘A fire that engulfed a passenger plane due to the Huthi attack on Abha Airport is under control,’ it added.
The Abha airport, close to the Yemeni border, has been repeatedly targeted in Houthi missile and drone attacks.
Those attacks have wounded dozens and killed at least one person over recent years. The Saudi-led military coalition did not say what type of weapon was used in the attack.
The Houthis have previously crashed drones into the kingdom’s Patriot missile batteries, most recently on Sunday when the coalition said it intercepted five ‘booby-trapped’ drones.
Those attacks, often striking near the southern cities of Abha and Jizan, have wounded dozens and killed at least one person in recent years.
As recently as late January, U.S. forces stationed at Prince Sultan Air Base near Riyadh trained Saudi troops on how to counter the threat posed by drones, which can fly low to the ground, evade radar and detonate against targets in the kingdom.
In November 2017, the Houthis even reached Riyadh’s international airport, deep inside the kingdom. No one was hurt in the attack, which marked the first time that a Houthi missile had come so close to a heavily populated center.
Pakistan’s spokesman condemns attack:
Pakistan Condemns Drone Attacks on Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan’s government strongly condemns Houthi militants’ drone attacks on Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia, causing a civilian plane on the tarmac to catch fire. These attacks threaten peace and security of Saudi Arabia, as well as the region. We call for the immediate cessation of such attacks.
Pakistan reiterates its full support and solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any threats to its security and territorial integrity.