Saudi-led coalition says it foiled rebel attacks by air, sea

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The Saudi-led coalition allied with Yemen’s government said Monday it foiled two attacks launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, including an explosives-laden boat dispatched into the Red Sea near international shipping lanes.

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki said in a statement that the remotely controlled boat was spotted late Sunday. He did not mention any casualties, but Yemeni officials said a blast killed at least three people and wounded five others.

Al-Malki described the attempted boat attack as a “terrorist attack” that threatens commercial shipping routes in the vital Bab al-Mandeb strait, used for oil shipments from the Gulf to Europe, as well as goods from Asia to Europe.

He said the coalition also intercepted and destroyed a drone carrying explosives over the Abha international airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

He said some of the debris from the drone fell on the airport but caused no casualties or damage, according to Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency.

The Yemeni officials said the blast could be heard in the coastal city of Midi, and that it damaged five coalition vessels in the area.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

There was no claim of responsibility from the Houthi rebels and a spokesman did not answer phone calls seeking comment.

The Houthis have in the past targeted military ships belonging to coalition partners Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but the attacks have failed to cause any substantial damage.

The rebels also have used drones to target southern Saudi Arabia, just across the border. Two strikes last year on Abha airport killed one person and wounded more than 30.

The Saudi-led coalition has been at war with the Iran-allied Houthis since March 2015. The previous year, the Houthis overran the capital, Sanaa, and much of the country’s north, driving the internationally recognized government into exile.

The conflict has killed more than 112,000 Yemenis and devastated the Arab world’s poorest country.

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