Saudi Arabia said Saturday it intercepted a missile attack over its capital and bomb-laden drones targeting a southern province, the latest in a series of airborne assaults it has blamed on Yemen’s rebel Houthis. Saudi Arabia destroyed five explosive-laden drones heading towards southern Saudi cities, state television reported.
The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen’s years-long war announced the Iran-allied rebels had launched a ballistic missile toward Riyadh and several booby-trapped drones toward the province of Jizan. No casualties or damages were initially reported. There was no immediate comment from the Houthis.
The attack comes amid sharply rising tensions in the Middle East, a day after a mysterious explosion struck an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman, renewing concerns about ship security in the same site that saw a spate of suspected attacks on oil tankers in 2019 that the U.S. Navy blamed on Iran.
The state-owned Al-Ekhbariya TV posted footage of what appeared to be explosions in the air over Riyadh. Social media users also posted videos, with some showing residents shrieking as they watched the fiery blast, which appeared to be the kingdom’s Patriot missile batteries intercepting the ballistic missile.
As Yemen's war grinds on, Houthi missile and drone attacks on the kingdom have become increasingly common, only rarely causing damage. Riyadh has been targeted in sporadic missile attacks in that time, while the Saudi-led coalition has faced widespread international criticism for airstrikes in Yemen that have killed hundreds of civilians and hit non-military targets, including schools, hospitals and wedding parties.
The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh issued a warning to Americans, calling on them to “stay alert in case of additional future attacks.”
The Houthis have held Yemen’s capital and the country's north, where the majority of the population lives, since September 2014. Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a war against them in March 2015 in support of Yemen’s internationally recognized government.
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Reuters contributed to this report.