Saudi intercepts 'hostile target' over capital

Riyadh (AFP) –


Saudi Arabia intercepted a "hostile target" over Riyadh on Saturday, said state media in the kingdom which has come under repeated attack from Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels since 2015.

An explosion was heard in the Saudi capital at around 11:00 am (0800 GMT), AFP correspondents reported.

"I heard a loud sound and thought that something had fallen from the sky," said one resident, who lives in the Al-Sulaimaniyah district of Riyadh. "The whole house was shaking."

The Saudi-led coalition, which backs Yemen's internationally recognised government against the Huthis, said it had "intercepted and destroyed a hostile air target going towards Riyadh", without elaborating, according to state-run Al Ekhbariya television station.

Riyadh's King Khaled International Airport said there were a number of flight delays, but it was not immediately clear if they were linked to Saturday's incident.

Saudi Arabia has been repeatedly targeted by the Huthis since its intervention in the Yemen war in 2015.

It is rare, however, for drones and missiles launched by the Huthis to reach the kingdom's capital -- about 700 kilometres (435 miles) from the Yemeni border.

The Shiite rebels have yet to comment on the incident, which comes only days after Joe Biden was sworn-in as US president, replacing Donald Trump.

According to the new US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, the Biden administration will quickly revisit the designation of Yemen's Huthi rebels as terrorists.

At his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Blinken said he would "immediately" review the Trump administration's labelling of the insurgents, fearing the move was worsening a humanitarian crisis.