Intercepted Drone Shrapnel Injures 12 at Saudi Abha Airport

The injured included travelers and workers of various nationalities, Saudi state media reports

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Armed Houthi fighters in Sanaa, Yemen, November 2021.
Armed Houthi fighters in Sanaa, Yemen, November 2021.Credit: Hani Mohammed /AP

Twelve people were injured at Saudi Arabia's Abha airport by shrapnel from a drone intercepted by air defenses on Thursday, the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yeman's Iran-aligned Houthi group said.

Air traffic operations returned to normal after standard safety procedures were carried out, the coalition said. The injured included travelers and workers of various nationalities, it said in two statements carried by state media.

In January, three children and more than 60 adults are reported to have been killed in air strikes in Yemen, a statement from Save the Children said on Friday, without providing any details.

An air strike had hit a temporary detention center in Yemen's Saada province earlier in the day, killing several people including African migrants, a Reuters witness said, as the Saudi-led coalition stepped up operations on areas held by the Houthi movement.

In recent weeks, the Iran-aligned Houthis have waged an unprecedented string of largely failed missiles strikes on UAE targets that have triggered Emirati and U.S. air defenses and seen American troops briefly taking shelter.

Saudi-led coalition spokesperson, Colonel Turki al-Malki speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 2021. Credit: AHMED YOSRI/ REUTERS

The UAE said its forces destroyed a Houthi ballistic missile launch area in Yemen twice in January, after unprecedented drone and missile attacks on the UAE this year claimed by the Houthis.

Last month, the UAE intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Houthi rebels as the Israeli president visited the country.

Earlier this week, U.S. Marine General Frank McKenzie arrived in the United Arab Emirates for talks on efforts to bolster the Gulf state's defenses. 

McKenzie, who oversees U.S. forces in the Middle East as head of Central Command, said he moved up his planned visit in response to the Houthi attacks, hoping to underscore the U.S. commitment to the Gulf state's defense.

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