A fiery explosion lit up the skyline over the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah on Friday morning, clearly visible from the F1 racing track where the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix is set to take place Sunday.
The Iran-backed Houthi insurgents of Yemen issued a statement claiming they have launched a series of attacks “deep” into Saudi territory.
Ahead of big F1 race, reports of Iran-backed forces striking Aramco’s oil tanks in Jeddahpic.twitter.com/9BasltmPtU
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) March 25, 2022
Yemeni army says targeted Aramco facilities in Saudi cities of Jeddah, Jizan, Najran with missile strike pic.twitter.com/orACyJVkyd
— Press TV (@PressTV) March 25, 2022
#BREAKING Yemen rebels launch multiple strikes on Saudi: coalition pic.twitter.com/pWZjS21Ruj
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) March 25, 2022
F1 racers saw, heard, and smelled the explosion, leading some of them to think the fumes had something to do with the race:
Max Verstappen thought his car was on fire after smelling fumes from huge explosion near Jeddah circuit https://t.co/FAnrpJdumD
— Sun Sport (@SunSport) March 25, 2022
The fireball appeared to erupt from the North Jeddah Bulk Plant, which stores nearly a quarter of Saudi Arabia’s stockpile of fuel for ground and air vehicles, as well as the fuel supply for a crucial water desalination plant near Jeddah. The fuel storage facility was one of the primary targets in a wave of Houthi terrorist attacks last weekend but sustained only minor damage, according to Saudi officials.
Saudi state television on Friday reported attacks on water tanks in the town of Dharan and an electrical substation close to the Yemeni border.
The Houthi-controlled al-Masirah satellite news channel in Yemen said on Friday that “more details” would soon be released about the purported attacks on Saudi Arabian civilian targets but did not explicitly claim responsibility for the Jeddah explosion.
The Houthis were classified as a foreign terrorist organization by the Trump administration, but the designation was rescinded by President Joe Biden soon after he took office. The Saudi government warned this week that continued Houthi attacks on their oil infrastructure could hinder their ability to supply oil during the worldwide fuel crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Update, 1:15 p.m. EST: Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea claimed responsibility for a “missile” attack on Jeddah, plus drone attacks on the Saudi refineries at Ras Tanura and Rabigh. Sarea said the Houthis also attacked targets in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh.
Update, 1:20 p.m. EST: Saudi state media quoted a spokesman for the military coalition against the Yemen insurgency who said a ballistic missile and ten bomb-laden drones were intercepted on Friday. The Houthi weapons were aimed at several different cities. The coalition said relatively minor damage was inflicted on several targets, plus collateral damage to civilian vehicles and residences, but none of it was severe, and there was no loss of life.
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