Saudis intercept ballistic missile intended for airport

Saudi Arabia intercepted a missile Saturday over northeast Riyadh that Yemen’s air force said was intended for the capital’s airport.

King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, which includes a mosque, was the target of a Scud-type missile, Yemen's rebel-controlled air force said, but Saudi Arabia intercepted the missile in an uninhabited area. Photo by Wikimedia Commons/Habeeb Shaikh
King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, which includes a mosque, was the target of a Scud-type missile, Yemen’s rebel-controlled air force said, but Saudi Arabia intercepted the missile in an uninhabited area. Photo by Wikimedia Commons/Habeeb Shaikh

Yemen’s rebel-controlled Defense Ministry said in a statement the operation using a Yemeni-made, long-range ballistic missile called the Burqan 2H was successful because the attack “shook the Saudi capital.”

The Scud-type missile has a range of around 500 miles, a spokesman told Al Jazeera.

Smoke could be seen in images rising from an area near Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport.

“We previously warned that capitals of countries attacking Yemen will not be safe from our ballistic missiles,” Mohammed Abdul Salam, spokesman for the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, said. “Today’s missile attack comes in response to Saudi killing innocent Yemeni civilians.”

On Wednesday, at least 26 civilians died and dozens were injured in an airstrike in northwestern Yemen that Houthi rebels said was carried out by a Saudi-led coalition.

Saudi Col. Turki al-Maliki said at 20:07 p.m. a ballistic missile was fired from Yemeni territory toward the kingdom but Saudi forces used a surface-to-air Patriot missile to destroy the missile in an uninhabited area east of the airport, according to the official Saudi news agency, SPA.

In 2014, Houthi rebels seized control of the capital Sanaa and began pushing south toward the country’s third-biggest city, Aden.

One year later, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Sunni Arab states launched a massive air campaign aimed at reinstalling President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government.

More than 10,000 people have died and at least 40,000 wounded, mostly from Saudi-led air strikes.

“The Saudis started the war. Our response will continue and increase, whether it’s targeting deep inside Saudi Arabia, targeting military positions where Saudi jets fly from or military bases inside Yemeni territory,” Abdul Salam said to Al Jazeera earlier this month.

By Allen Cone