Saudi-led coalition confirms Houthi attack on airport

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attend a session of the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland

Three women - one Yemeni, one Indian and one Saudi - and two Saudi children are among those hurt.

Abe, who is close to President Trump and hosted him last month, is attempting to de-escalate the months-long heightened tensions between the two countries, which has included attacks on oil tankers suspected of being carried out by Iran, as well as alleged threats to Americans in Iraq by Iranian proxies.

The Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis, said they launched a cruise missile at the Saudi airport.

Eight of those wounded at Abha airport were admitted to hospital, coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki said.

The rebels' Al-Masirah satellite news channel said the missile hit its intended target, halting air traffic at the airport in the town of Abha in the kingdom's southwest, some 165 kilometers (100 miles) from the Saudi-Yemen border. Separately, the front page of the Iranian daily Farheekhtegan, or Educated, published Wednesday morning a picture of a mushroom cloud from a nuclear blast - a reference to America's bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War.

A Houthi military spokesman said the attack was a response to the coalition's "crimes" against Yemen.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe landed in Iran on Wednesday on a mission to ease tensions between Washington and Tehran, just hours after Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen fired a missile at Saudi airport.

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"This attack also proves this terrorist militia's acquisition of new special weapons; the continuation of the Iranian regime's support and practice of cross-border terrorism...", the coalition's English-language statement said.

The prospects of a showdown between the US, its Arab allies on one hand, and Iran on the other, have spiked since the Trump administration stopped granting waivers to buyers of Iranian oil early in May.

The Houthis have previously targeted Saudi cities with drones and missiles, most of which have been intercepted. In March 2018 an Egyptian was killed in the capital Riyadh by missile shrapnel.

"A cruise missile might be able to come in at a sufficiently low altitude that it could not be engaged before reaching its target", he said.

The Houthis stepped up their attacks following a lull previous year ahead of UN-led peace efforts. The coalition has responded in the past by carrying out air strikes on Houthi military sites in and around Sanaa.

The UAE strongly condemns a Houthi attack on Abha Airport in Saudi Arabia that left 26 people wounded on Wednesday, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said.

Japan had relied heavily on Iranian oil, but has cut imports to comply with US sanctions. More than 22 million people in Yemen are desperate for humanitarian aid and protection.

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