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Yemen's Houthi rebels strike Marib oil facility despite UN ceasefire efforts

The attack comes amid clashes between government-backed forces and the rebels [Twitter]

Date of publication: 5 April, 2020

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A state-owned oil facility in Yemen's eastern Marib region was struck by Houthis on Saturday, despite the rebels 'responding positively' to UN ceasefire efforts
Yemen's Houthi rebels have been accused of launching an attack on an oil pipeline pumping station in the province of Marib, Yemen's oil ministry said.

The attack struck the state-owned Safer oil company pipeline in the east of the country on Saturday, the ministry added, triggering a fire at the facillity.

The attack came just days after the rebels launched their biggest attack on the neighbouring Saudi kingdom since the September assault on Aramco oil facilities.

The attack left two civilians wounded in Riyadh, which is under a 15-hour curfew to limit the spread of coronavirus, Saudi state media reported on Saturday.

A Houthi spokesman said the rebels struck "sensitive targets" in Riyadh with long-range Zulfiqar missiles and Sammad-3 drones. The rebels also claimed to have hit "economic and military targets" in the border regions of Jizan, Najran and Asir.

Read also: Yemen in Focus: Houthi attack on Riyadh a 'bargaining chip' amid ongoing talks

Saudi Arabia responded to the strikes with its own bombardment on the rebel-held Yemeni capital on Monday, which killed one civilian and some 70 Arabian horses that were stationed at a military college.

The Houthi-run Al-Masirah television reported at least 19 air strikes on a number of targets in Sanaa, including military bases and the military academy, where the horses were sheltered.

On Thursday, the UN envoy to Yemen said he was engaged in talks with the country's warring parties to secure a nationwide ceasefire to help counter the threat of the coronavirus.

Martin Griffiths' office said he is discussing "concrete steps" with the warring sides despite a recent escalation in the long conflict.

Griffiths is in daily consultations aimed at bringing the warring sides together in "virtual" negotiations as soon as possible, a statement from his office said.

"I hope that these consultations can be soon completed and deliver what Yemenis expect, demand and deserve," it quoted the envoy as saying.

The United Nations has issued a global call for armed groups to stand down during the pandemic.

The Yemen government, its Saudi-led coalition ally and the Houthis responded positively to the appeal, though Saturday’s attack on the oil facility in Marib has cast doubts on the rebels’ commitment to peace.

Saudi-backed government forces - including tribal fighters - and the Houthis are currently interlocked in clashes in Yemen’s eastern region after the rebels captured control of al-Jawf last month. All eyes are now on the oil-rich eastern Marib province amid a looming Houthi offensive.

Yemen's devastating nearly-five-year war has introduced air strikes, death and poverty to a nation that was already listed as one of the most impoverished in the world. 

More than 100,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition intervened to back the government in March 2015, prompting the UN to label the situation in the country as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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