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Saudi Arabia Intercepts Missile Attack 02/28 08:59


   DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Saudi Arabia said Saturday it 
intercepted a missile attack over its capital and bomb-laden drones targeting a 
southern province, the latest in a series of airborne assaults it has blamed on 
Yemen's rebel Houthis.

   The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen's yearslong war announced 
the Iran-allied Houthis had launched a ballistic missile toward Riyadh and 
three booby-trapped drones toward the province of Jizan, with a fourth toward 
another southwestern city and other drones being monitored. No casualties or 
damage were initially reported. There was no immediate comment from the Houthis.

   The attack comes amid sharply rising tensions in the Middle East, a day 
after a mysterious explosion struck an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman. 
That blast renewed concerns about ship security in the strategic waterways that 
saw a spate of suspected Iranian attacks on oil tankers in 2019.

   The state-owned Al-Ekhbariya TV broadcast footage of what appeared to be 
explosions in the air over Riyadh. Social media users also posted videos, with 
some showing residents shrieking as they watched the fiery blast pierce the 
night sky, which appeared to be the kingdom's Patriot missile batteries 
intercepting the ballistic missile.

   Col. Turki al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said the 
Houthis were trying in "a systematic and deliberate way to target civilians."

   The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh issued a warning to Americans, calling on them to 
"stay alert in case of additional future attacks." Flight-tracking websites 
showed a number of flights scheduled to land at Riyadh's international airport 
diverted or delayed in the hour after the attack.

   A civil defense spokesman, Mohammed al-Hammadi, later said scattered debris 
resulted in material damage to one house, though no one was hurt, the state-run 
Saudi Press Agency reported.

   As Yemen's war grinds on, Houthi missile and drone attacks on the kingdom 
have grown commonplace, only rarely causing damage. Earlier this month the 
Houthis struck an empty passenger plane at Saudi Arabia's southwestern Abha 
airport with a bomb-laden drone, causing it to catch fire.

   Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition has faced widespread international 
criticism for airstrikes in Yemen that have killed hundreds of civilians and 
hit non-military targets, including schools, hospitals and wedding parties. 
President Joe Biden announced this month he was ending U.S. support for the 
Saudi-led war in Yemen, including "relevant" arms sales. But he stressed that 
the U.S. would continue to help Saudi Arabia defend itself against outside 

   The Houthis overran Yemen's capital and much of the country's north in 2014, 
forcing the government into exile and months later prompting Saudi Arabia and 
its allies to launch a bombing campaign.

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