UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Nadia Asiri was waiting for her sister to arrive at a local Saudi airport from the capital Riyadh when an explosion knocked her to the ground and set the scene on fire.
Nearby, shrapnel from the arm and leg of another woman, an Indian named Umm Karim, hit a landing strip at Abha airport, where she was sitting in the early hours of Wednesday after arriving on a night flight.
The Houthi movement, allied to Iran and fighting a war with a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attack. The coalition said 26 people were wounded, including Saudis, Yemenis and Indians.
The Western-backed Saudi-led coalition responded on Thursday with air strikes on the capital Sanaa, controlled by the Houthis, and said it had targeted military installations belonging to them.
Abha airport, which was hit by a missile, is about 200 kilometers north of the border with Yemen. When the media visited the airport on Thursday, the smell of the new paint smelled of the place and the roof of the damaged access hall was repaired, but the effects of the fire that followed the crash were still visible.
“It caught fire,” Nadia, 33, said. “I was waiting for my sister Jaya from Riyadh, and we were standing there, we heard a voice, and the blaze caught fire, and then I returned with injuries. There was not much people in the time of the explosion.”
The mother’s daughter-in-law said the explosion shook the car as the family arrived and told Reuters: “I was afraid of another explosion.”
The Houthis said a cruise missile hit the airport and destroyed the watchtower but Reuters reporter saw no damage to the building except for some broken glass on the ground.
The Houthis were targeted by Saudi cities with marching aircraft and missiles that mostly intercepted Saudi defenses. The Houthis control the capital Sana’a and the most populated areas in Yemen.
The attack on a civilian target inside Saudi Arabia came at a time of heightened tensions in the region between Iran and Gulf Arab states allied to the United States.
“The injury of civilians (in Abha) puts additional pressure on the Saudis to respond to this attack,” said Jean-Marc Riquelie, a defense expert at the Geneva Center for Security Policy. This pours more oil on the fire.”
The coalition said on Wednesday evidence showed that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards supplied the Houthis with the weapons used in the Abha airport attack.
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said on Thursday that non-intercepting the missile did not mean a flaw in Saudi defenses.
Last month, the Houthis claimed responsibility for an attack using aircraft on two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia, the first time they targeted Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure.
The Saudi-UAE-led coalition will enter Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government to power that was ousted by the Houthis from the capital Sanaa in late 2014.
The Saudi-led coalition has been under international criticism for killing civilians in air strikes, but the coalition says it is not deliberately targeting civilians.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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