Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia intercepts missile over Riyadh, shoots down two drones in the south

Yemen’s Houthi movement has stepped up missile attacks on the kingdom

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 April, 2018, 12:18am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 April, 2018, 6:24am

Saudi Arabia’s air defence forces intercepted a missile over Riyadh on Wednesday, state media said, after at least three blasts were heard and three clouds of smoke were seen in the sky above the capital.

Yemen’s Houthi movement has stepped up missile attacks on the kingdom in what it says is retaliation for air raids by a Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-aligned armed movement.

One man was killed in Riyadh last month by debris after the military shot down a flurry of missiles, the first casualty of the Yemen war in the Saudi capital.

Saudi Arabia and a coalition of mostly Gulf Arab states intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to try to push back the Houthis after the movement drove Yemen’s internationally recognised government into Saudi exile.

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The attack on Wednesday marked the fourth time in five months that missiles have flown over Riyadh, as the Houthis step up efforts to demonstrate they can reach the Saudi capital, and threatens to escalate a regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The coalition has launched thousands of air strikes in Yemen which have hit schools, markets and hospitals, killing hundreds of people – though it says it does not target civilians.

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Also on Wednesday, Saudi air defences shot down two unmanned Yemeni drones in southern Saudi Arabia, a spokesman for the Riyadh-led coalition fighting in Yemen said.  

One drone was targeting the Abha international airport in Asir province, which led to a temporary suspension of air traffic. The second was approaching a “civilian object” in Jizan province, Colonel Turki al-Malki said in a statement published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.