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AFP
&
A
APP
March 30, 2020

S Arabia intercepts Huthi’s missiles

Top Story

AFP
&
A
APP
March 30, 2020

RIYADH: Saudi air defence intercepted Yemeni rebel missiles over Riyadh and a city on the Yemen border, leaving two civilians wounded in the curfew-locked capital amid efforts to combat coronavirus, state media said Sunday.

Multiple explosions shook Riyadh late Saturday in the first major assault on Saudi Arabia since the Huthi rebels offered last September to halt attacks on the kingdom after devastating twin strikes on Saudi oil installations.

The insurgents claimed responsibility around 15 hours after the attacks, with a rebel spokesman calling it "the largest operation of its kind" as the Riyadh-led military intervention in Yemen enters its sixth year.

"Two ballistic missiles were launched towards the cities of Riyadh and Jizan," the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing the Saudi-led coalition that is fighting the rebels in Yemen.

Their interception sent shrapnel raining on residential neighbourhoods in the cities, leaving two civilians injured in Riyadh, a civil defence spokesman said in a separate statement released by SPA.

At least three blasts rocked the capital, which is under a 15-hour-per-day coronavirus curfew, just before midnight, said reporters. Jizan, like many other Saudi cities, faces a shorter dusk-to-dawn curfew.

The Huthi spokesman said the rebels struck "sensitive targets" in Riyadh with long-range Zolfaghar missiles and Sammad-3 drones. The rebels also claimed to have hit "economic and military targets" in the border regions of Jizan, Najran and Assir.

The assault comes despite a show of support on Thursday by all of Yemen´s warring parties for a United Nations call for a ceasefire to protect civilians from the coronavirus pandemic.

Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni government and the Huthi rebels all welcomed an appeal from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for an "immediate global ceasefire" to help avert disaster for vulnerable people in conflict zones. The call coincided with the fifth anniversary of Saudi Arabia´s military intervention in Yemen´s civil war, which was launched to shore up the internationally recognised government against the Huthis.

Yemen´s government condemned the attack, which it said undermined efforts to scale down the conflict amid the coronavirus outbreak. Information Minister Moammer al-Eryani said in a tweet, "This militia lives only on wars and doesn´t understand peace language," he said.

Yemen´s broken healthcare system has so far recorded no case of the COVID-19 illness, but aid groups have warned that when it does hit, the impact will be catastrophic. The country is already gripped by what the UN calls the world´s worst humanitarian crisis.

Pakistan strongly condemned the missile attacks launched towards Riyadh and Jizan in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, reiterating its full solidarity with the brotherly people of Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan also reaffirmed its support to the Kingdom against any threat to its security and territorial integrity, the foreign office spokesperson in a press release said.