Saudi Arabia has said armed drones struck two oil pumping stations that belong to the country’s state-run oil giant Aramco while other assaults targeted energy infrastructure elsewhere in the kingdom.
The attack on the pumping stations took place early on Tuesday, causing minor damage to one of the stations supplying a pipeline running from its oil-rich Eastern Province to the Yanbu Port on the Red Sea, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The fire that broke out was later brought under control but Aramco stopped pumping oil through the pipeline.
“Saudi Aramco has taken all necessary measures and temporarily shut down the pipeline to evaluate its condition,” the SPA statement said.
Earlier on Tuesday, a television station run by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, an Iran-aligned group, said the group launched drone attacks on Saudi installations, without identifying the targets or time of the attacks.
This comes a day after Riyadh said two of its oil tankers were among four vessels attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday.
The Houthi-run Al Masirah TV channel cited a Houthi military official as saying that “seven drones carried out attacks on vital Saudi installations”.
It was not immediately clear if the Houthis, who are battling a Saudi-UAE-led military coalition in Yemen, were claiming responsibility for Sunday’s attack near Fujairah, which lies just outside the Strait of Hormuz.
The Houthis have repeatedly launched drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and claimed to have launched drone attacks on the UAE.
On Twitter, Al Masirah cited the official as saying: “This large military operation is in response to the continued aggression and blockade of our people and we are prepared to carry out more unique and harsh strikes.”
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading the Western-backed Sunni Muslim alliance that intervened in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis in an attempt to restore the internationally recognised government.
Al-Falih called the attack “cowardly”, saying that recent sabotage acts against its vital installations not only target Saudi Arabia, but the safety of the world’s energy supply and global economy.
He also promised the production and export of Saudi oil would not be interrupted.
President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government was ousted from power in the capital Sanaa in late 2014.
The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis deny being puppets of Iran and say their revolution is against corruption.
Yemen’s conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, many of them civilians, relief agencies say.
The fighting has triggered what the UN describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 24.1 million – more than two-thirds of the population – in need of aid.