Four hurt as Saudi intercepts suspected Yemen rebel drone

A picture taken on February 8, 2018 shows Saudi soldiers standing guard as workers unload aid from a Saudi air force cargo plane at an airfield in Yemen's central province of Marib. Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels are in a fierce battle to take the oil-rich city of Marib. (Photo: ABDULLAH AL-QADRY / AFP)

RIYADH (AFP) — Four workers were wounded Wednesday as the Saudi-led coalition fighting in neighboring Yemen intercepted an explosives-laden drone targeting the kingdom's Abha airport, state media reported.اضافة اعلان

The coalition blamed the attack on Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels and said the four workers sustained "minor" injuries from the drone's debris, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 

The coalition said it also destroyed the suspected site in Yemen's northern Saada province from which the drone was launched. 

There was no immediate comment from the Huthi rebels. 

On August 31, a drone hit the same airport, wounding eight people and damaging a civilian aircraft. Nestled in the kingdom's southwestern mountains, Abha is a popular destination for Saudi tourists.

Wednesday's drone attack came shortly after the coalition said it destroyed three booby-trapped boats on Yemen's Red Sea coast. 

"They were equipped to carry out hostile operations and imminent attacks," SPA cited the coalition as saying. 

"The coalition efforts have contributed to the protection of international shipping lanes and trade in the Bab al-Mandab strait and the southern Red Sea."

Saudi Arabia intervened to shore up the beleaguered Yemeni government in 2015, shortly after the Huthis seized the capital Sanaa. 

The rebels have repeatedly targeted the kingdom with cross-border drone and missile attacks they say are a response to coalition bombing of rebel-held areas.

The attacks have escalated since August as the rebels press an offensive against the strategic oil-producing region of Marib, the Saudi-backed government's last toehold in the north.

Yemen's grinding conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions, resulting in what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis. While the UN is pushing for an end to the war, the Huthis have demanded the reopening of Sanaa airport, closed by a Saudi blockade since 2016, before any ceasefire or negotiations.

Read more Regional news