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UN report points to Houthis as culprits in December attack on Yemen airport

The missiles used in attack on plane carrying government officials, which killed 20, are in Houthis’ arsenal, report finds; Iran-backed rebels reject finding

Illustrative: In this frame grab from video, Saudi state television shows an airplane damaged in an attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels at an airport near Abha, Saudi Arabia, February 10, 2021. (Saudi state television via AP)
Illustrative: In this frame grab from video, Saudi state television shows an airplane damaged in an attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels at an airport near Abha, Saudi Arabia, February 10, 2021. (Saudi state television via AP)

NEW YORK — A deadly attack on December 30, 2020, on Aden airport in Yemen was carried out with missiles similar to those possessed by Houthi rebels and fired from locations under their control, according to a report submitted to the UN Security Council.

The attack killed about 20 people, including the deputy minister of public works, and injured more than 100 people.

“Three explosions occurred… minutes after a plane carrying Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, members of his ‘unity’ cabinet and other senior government officials had landed,” the report said.

“The airport was hit by three precision-guided, short-distance, surface-to-surface ballistic missiles carrying fragmentation warheads, likely an extended-range version of the Badr-1P missile, which has been part of the Houthi arsenal since 2018.”

In this August 22, 2020 file photo, tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels raise their weapons during a protest against the agreement to establish diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, in Sanaa, Yemen. (AP/Hani Mohammed, File)

The Houthis on Wednesday rejected the report.

“Any report on Yemen… issued without an independent committee is rejected,” Houthi political commander Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said Wednesday.

He added it “is unrealistic, biased, and lacks credibility.”

The missiles were an attempt to hit the plane carrying government officials, as well as the VIP lounge, where a press conference had been planned.

They were fired from “facilities were under the control of the Houthi forces at the time of the attacks,” said a summary of the confidential investigative report obtained on Tuesday by AFP.

Houthi fighters chant slogans as they take off to a battlefront following a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters for the Houthi movement, in Sanaa, Yemen, August 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

A last-minute decision to park the plane further away from the terminal building, as well as a delay in passengers disembarking, prevented further casualties, it said.

The southern port city of Aden is Yemen’s de facto capital, where the internationally recognized government is based after being routed from Sanaa in the north by Houthi rebels.

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