Middle East

Shrapnel injures 12 at Saudi Abha airport as drone intercepted

DUBAI, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Twelve people were injured at Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport by shrapnel from an explosive-laden drone intercepted by air defences on Thursday, the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group said.

In a statement carried by Al Arabiya TV, the coalition later warned people in the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa to avoid civilian locations used for military purposes during the next 72 hours while they strike drone launch sites,

Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Sarea said the group hit a military target at Abha airport with a Qasef 2 drone.

Air traffic operations at Abha civilian airport returned to normal after standard safety procedures following the drone interception, the coalition said in statements carried by state media.

Shrapnel from the drone attack at midday fell inside airport grounds and some glass facades were damaged, it said.

Light injuries were sustained by two Saudi nationals and citizens of Bangladesh, Nepal, India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

The coalition has been fighting the Houthis since early 2015, after the group ousted Yemen’s internationally recognised government from power in the capital Sanaa.

The Houthis often launch attacks on 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 attacks are intercepted but a few people have been killed and several injured.

The coalition regularly carries out air strikes on what it says are Houthi military targets in Yemen. On Thursday it said it would take measures to neutralize the source of threats to civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law.

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.

Reporting by Yasmin Hussein; Writing by Nadine Awadalla and Lisa Barrington; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Mark Heinrich, William Maclean

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