Saudi Arabia’s cabinet has condemned Yemen’s Houthis for targeting the Saudi capital, Riyadh, with eight armed drones and three ballistic missiles, state news agency SPA said in a statement.
The statement late on Tuesday called the attacks “terroristic acts” that target civilians and threatened the lives of hundreds of people.
At least two large explosions were heard in Riyadh near dawn on Tuesday and smoke billowed into the sky.
The Houthis said they had hit the Saudi defence ministry and a military base, while a Saudi-led military coalition said it had shot a missile down, making no reference to targets.
There was no sign of damage to the side of the defence ministry building that is visible from the main road or to any surrounding buildings. The area was quiet on Tuesday evening, with normal traffic flows and no additional security measures.
The Houthis have repeatedly fired on Saudi Arabia during the conflict, but had not targeted Riyadh since late March, when Saudi Arabia said it shot down a missile and two residents were injured by falling debris.
Violence between the two sides has surged after the expiry last month of the six-week ceasefire prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yemen has been divided between the Saudi-backed government in the south and the Houthi movement based in the north since the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014 and the Saudi-led coalition intervened a few months later in March 2015.
Since then, tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions have been pushed to the brink of famine, in what the United Nations has called “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.
Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said in a televised speech that the group fired several missiles and drones, which “pounded” military headquarters and centres in Riyadh, including the defence ministry and King Salman Air Base.
Sarea said attacks were also launched against military sites in the southern Saudi cities of Najran and Jizan.
Saudi-led coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki also condemned the latest attack on Riyadh saying it was a “deliberate hostile action designed to target civilians”.
The coalition had also shot down three missiles headed towards Najran and Jizan and a number of drones, he said.
The conflict in Yemen is largely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.