Photo: A Saudi F-15 fighter jet. The rebel attack on Wednesday came amid reports the coalition was intensifying airstrikes on Houthi positions. Photograph: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images
A Yemeni rebel missile attack on an airport in south-western Saudi Arabia has injured 26 civilians, according to the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have faced persistent coalition bombing since March 2015 that has exacted a heavy civilian death toll, have stepped up missile and drone attacks across the border in recent weeks.
Eight of those wounded at Abha airport on Wednesday were admitted to hospital, the coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki said. The other 18 were discharged after receiving first aid, he said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The Houthi rebels said earlier that they had launched a missile at the airport in the Saudi mountain resort city. Flights were disrupted for several hours before returning to normal.
Abha, capital of Asir province, lies high in the lush Asir mountains and is a popular getaway for Saudis seeking to escape the searing summer heat of Riyadh or Jeddah.
Malki said an unidentified “projectile” hit the airport, which is used by thousands of passengers a day. He said at least one Indian citizen was among three women wounded along with two Saudi children.
Malki described the incident as a terrorist attack on a civilian target that could be considered a war crime. He said the coalition would take stern action to deter the rebels and protect civilians.
On Monday, Saudi air defences intercepted two rebel drones headed for Khamis Mushait. The city, to the east of Abha, is home to a major airbase that has been one of the main launchpads for the coalition’s bombing campaign in Yemen.
Last month, the Saudi air force shot down a rebel drone that targeted Jizan airport on the Red Sea coast close to the Yemeni border, the coalition said.
The rebel attacks came as SPA reported the coalition was intensifying airstrikes on rebel positions in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah.