Saudi Arabia has confirmed that its missile defense system intercepted in mid-air a long-range explosive headed toward an airport in its capital city of Riyadh before it could do any damage, with Houthi rebels in Yemen claiming responsibility for the attack.
“The capital cities of countries that continually shell us, targeting innocent civilians, will not be spared from our missiles,” a spokesman for the rebel faction said told Al Jazeera.
The missile was launched from over 300 miles away and crossed the border into Saudi Arabia on a path toward the King Khalid International Airport, which is located 35 miles north of the capital and serves as the main air transportation hub for travelers coming to and from Riyadh and the surrounding region.
Airport officials took to Twitter to reassure ticketed passengers that their flights would continue as scheduled.
“Travelers across King Khalid international airport in Riyadh, we assure you that the movement is going on as normal and usual, and trips going according to time,” the airport wrote.
SPA, Saudi Arabia’s official news agency, claimed that its military employed a surface-to-air Patriot missile to shoot down the missile. It also reported that the projectile’s trajectory would have seen it land in an inhabited area east of the airport instead of detonating at the airport itself.
No damage was caused by the small missile, but passengers at the airport reported seeing and hearing a large explosion in the sky. The latest attack marks just one of many instances in which Houthi rebels have attempted to strike at Saudi civilians from across the border only to be thwarted by the country’s air defense.