RIYADH | SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia said it had intercepted several ballistic missiles fired by Yemeni Houthi forces towards Saudi cities on Friday ahead of a gathering of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 major economies in Riyadh.
The Iranian – aligned armed movement launched the missiles from the Yemeni capital Sanaa at 12:30am, Saudi news agency SPA quoted the spokesman of the Saudi – led coalition in Yemen as saying. It gave no further details.
A Houthi military statement said the group had successfully attacked Saudi Aramco and sensitive targets in the Red Sea city of Yanbu using drones and ballistic missiles, without providing evidence.
Aramco, the kingdom’s state-owned oil company, declined to comment.
The G20 meeting, at which finance officials are due to discuss the global economy, continued as scheduled. It was unclear if any of projectiles had been fired towards Riyadh, which has been targeted previously.
Separately, the Saudi police said they arrested a man who had opened fire on a car and then run over the driver in Medina. Three members of the security forces were wounded in the process, a police spokesman was quoted as saying by SPA.
An escalation of violence in Yemen since the start of the year has shattered more than three months of calm in the five-year-old conflict, widely seen as proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its regional foe Iran.
Saudi Arabia has been holding informal talks with the Houthis since late September about de-escalation. Riyadh had significantly reduced its air strikes in Yemen and the Houthis had halted missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.
But violence resumed on northern frontlines in January and led to renewed Houthi missile strikes, the first since attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September knocked out more than half its crude output. The Saudi – led coalition resumed retaliatory bombings.
Three sources close to the discussions between Riyadh and the Houthis said factions in Yemen’s Saudi-backed government had provoked the unrest to try to undermine the talks, fearful that a deal may weaken their own position in any wider negotiations.
A spokesman for the government denied its forces provoked the Houthis and told Reuters that they were responding to advances by the group. A Houthi official accused the government of trying to make territorial gains during the lull in violence.
The escalation endangers months of peace efforts by Saudi Arabia and the United Nations, and highlights the challenge Riyadh faces in trying to exit a costly and unpopular war.
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