Saudi-led coalition intercepts missiles over Riyadh, Jizan

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Saudi Arabia’s air defences have intercepted two ballistic missiles above the kingdom’s capital, Riyadh, and the southern city of Jizan, according to a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

Turki al-Malki, in a statement quoted by the Saudi Press Agency, blamed the foiled assaults on Yemen’s Houthi rebels and said the missiles were destroyed around 23:23 (20:23 GMT) on Saturday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, however.

Al-Malki said the interception of the missiles had resulted in “debris scattering on some residential areas” in Riyadh and Jizan and “two civilians were slightly injured due to the falling of the intercepted missile’s debris as it exploded in mid-air over residential districts”.

Residents in Riyadh reported at least three blasts late on Saturday night, followed by emergency vehicle sirens in some northern districts.

Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television said US Patriot missile defence systems were used in the interception.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis battling the Saudi-led coalition have launched hundreds of missiles and drones across the border, mostly at nearby military and civilian targets, but also at Riyadh.

The city is about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) north of the border with Yemen, and the last attempted attack on the capital was in June 2018.

The latest missile attack comes after all parties in Yemen’s long conflict offered support on Thursday for the United Nations’ call for a ceasefire to protect civilians from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The call coincided with the fifth anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen’s civil war, at the helm of a military coalition supporting the internationally recognised government against the Houthi rebels.

With the recent escalation in fighting in Yemen, more than 40,000 people have been displaced since January, adding to the roughly 3.6 million who have fled their homes since the war began.

A number of those fleeing in recent weeks, including women and children, escaped on foot, walking for days without food or water across open desert, according to a recent statement by the United Nations refugee agency.