Ballistic missiles were intercepted on Saturday in the sky above the capital of Saudi Arabia Riyadh and the southern city of Jazan, according to state media, citing its own sources and the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.
Riyadh residents reported at least three explosions around 11:20 pm (8:20 pm GMT), followed by emergency vehicle sirens in some northern districts.
The source of the bullets was unclear and there was no immediate responsibility claim.
Saudi state television reported that Patriot USA anti-missile defense systems were used in the interception.
Houthi aligned with Iran of Yemen fighting the Saudi-led coalition have launched hundreds of missiles and drones across the border, mainly to nearby military and civilian targets but also to Riyadh.
Riyadh is located approximately 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of the Yemen border. The last attempt to attack the capital was in June 2018.
Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for a September 2019 drone and missile attack on two oil installations that halved Saudi oil production, even after the Houthi claimed responsibility. Tehran denies involvement.
The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, expelled from the Houthi in 2014.
Tens of thousands of people died in the conflict which is widely viewed as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Call for the global ceasefire
The latest missile attack comes after all sides in Yemen’s long conflict offered support Thursday for the United Nations’ request for a ceasefire to protect civilians from the new coronavirus pandemic.
Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni government and the rebels have all welcomed an appeal by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for an “immediate global ceasefire” to help prevent disaster for vulnerable people in conflict zones.
The call coincided with the fifth anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen’s civil war, at the helm of a military coalition in support of the internationally recognized government against the Houthi rebels.
The war killed over 100,000 people, many of them with Saudi-led air strikes. The war also created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions of people suffering from food and medical shortages.
With the fighting escalating in Yemen, over 40,000 people have been displaced since January, adding to the approximately 3.6 million who have fled their homes since the start of the war.
Numerous people on the run in recent weeks, including women and children, have fled on foot, walking for days without food or water through the open desert, according to a recent UN refugee agency statement.
So far, Yemen’s broken health system has not yet registered a case of COVID-19 disease, but aid groups have warned that once hit, the impact will be catastrophic in a country already considered to be facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Saudi Arabia is climbing to limit the spread of the disease at home. To date, the kingdom’s health ministry has reported 1,203 coronavirus infections and four died from disease.