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Mon 26 Mar 2018 08:21 AM

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Saudis intercept seven Yemen rebel missiles in deadly escalation

One Egyptian was killed and two of his countrymen were wounded by falling shrapnel in Riyadh

Saudis intercept seven Yemen rebel missiles in deadly escalation

Saudi forces intercepted seven Yemeni rebel missiles on Sunday, including over the capital Riyadh, in a deadly escalation on the eve of the third anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition's intervention in Yemen.

One Egyptian was killed and two of his countrymen were wounded by falling shrapnel in Riyadh, authorities said, with residents reporting loud explosions and bright flashes in the sky shortly before midnight.

The Iran-aligned Houthi rebels fired three missiles at Riyadh and four others at the southern cities of Khamis Mushait, Jizan and Najran, with the coalition saying they all targeted populated areas.

"This aggressive and hostile action by the Iran-backed Houthi group proves that the Iranian regime continues to support the armed group with military capabilities," coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki said.

"The firing of multiple ballistic missiles towards cities is a serious development."

The Houthi-run Al-Masira television channel claimed the rebels had targeted Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport as well as other airstrips in the south of the kingdom.

The strikes come after the US defence secretary last week urged Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to Washington to pursue "urgent efforts" to end Yemen's wrenching conflict.

The Houthi rebels have fired dozens of missiles into Saudi Arabia since last year, all of which Saudi forces claim to have intercepted, underscoring their capacity to strike deep within the kingdom amid a stalemated war in Yemen.

The latest attack could further escalate the coalition's military campaign.

A major attack targeting Riyadh international airport on November 4 triggered the tightening of a longstanding Saudi-led blockade of Yemen -- already on the verge of famine.

Another strike on December 19 targeted Riyadh's Yamamah palace, the official residence of King Salman.