The deputy governor of Saudi Arabia’s southern Asir province and several colleagues were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Saudi state TV Ekhbariya reported.

Local newspaper Okaz reported the helicopter containing Prince Mansour bin Muqrin. went down while the officials were taking a tour of an area near the coast in Asir, which borders Yemen.

The reports did not elaborate on the cause of the crash. 

The crash comes as a Saudi-led coalition accused Yemen’s Houthi militia of a “dangerous escalation,” with Saudi air defence forces having intercepted a ballistic missile fired by the group towards the capital Riyadh the day previously.

“The Houthis’ dangerous escalation came because of Iranian support,” said coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki in a press conference also televised by Ekhbariya.

Rocket launch vehicles used to fire the missile were made in Iran, he said.

Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse arch-foe Iran of supplying missiles and other weapons to the Houthis, saying the arms were not present in Yemen before the conflict began in 2015.

The missile was brought down near King Khaled Airport on the northern outskirts of the city on Saturday night and did not cause any casualties.

The claim echoed accusations earlier that day by U.S. President Donald Trump, who described the missile as “a shot just taken by Iran” against Saudi Arabia.

Iran denies sending missiles and financial support to the Houthis, blaming the conflict on Riyadh. The head of its Revolutionary Guards dismissed Trump’s comments as slander.

Maliki also said the coalition would soon begin offering a financial reward for information that could lead to the capture of 40 Houthi leaders yet to be named.

France’s foreign minister said on Sunday the missile strike showed there was a danger of wider ballistic proliferation across the region.

Reuters

Independent

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