Riyadh/Sanaa, Mar 25 (EFE).- Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for an attack Friday on an oil facility near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s second city, that came less than a week after the group struck a refinery.
“Saudi Aramco’s Bulk Plant in Jeddah was targeted with an act of aggression, the early indications of which suggest that it was targeted by the terrorist, Iran-backed Houthi militia,” Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Malki said in a statement.
“A fire erupted in (2) tanks in the oil facility; the fire was controlled, and no injuries or loss of life were recorded,” he said. “These hostile attacks had no impact or repercussions in any way, shape or form on public life in Jeddah City.”
A towering column of smoke from the fire was visible from the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, where drivers were practicing for Sunday’s Formula One Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia.
Practice was interrupted for 15 minutes as drivers and team principals met with the CEO of F1, Stefano Domenicali, who said later that the race will go forward as planned.
The strike in Jeddah coincided with an attack on an Aramco distribution facility in southwestern Saudi Arabia, near the border with Yemen.
A spokesman for the Houthis, who have been fighting against a Saudi-led coalition for seven years, said that the rebels launched missiles and drones against infrastructure of state oil company Aramco and other targets.
The strikes were directed at “Aramco facilities in Jeddah and vital facilities in the capital of the Saudi enemy, Riyadh,” Yahya Sarea said on Twitter.
The Saudi military said that coalition forces intercepted one missile and 10 drones launched by the Houthis from their bastion in northwestern Yemen.
While the coalition has retaliated for previous strikes by the Houthis inside Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the allies pledged “restrain” on this occasion so as not to disrupt an intra-Yemeni dialogue set to take place next week in Riyadh under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The Houthis rejected an invitation to the talks on settling the conflict, blamed by the United Nations for more than 370,000 deaths.
While tens of thousands of Yemenis have died in airstrikes, a substantial portion of the fatalities are attributable to shortages of food and other necessities as a result of a blockade imposed by the Saudis and their allies.
The UN says that 80 percent of Yemen’s 29 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Houthi rebels rose up in late 2014 against President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who ran opposed in 2012 in an election that was boycotted by the Houthis and by secessionists in the southern part of the country, which existed as an independent state from 1967-1990.
In March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition intervened in a bid to restore Hadi to power. EFE sa-ja-ar-ppa/dr