DUBAI (Reuters) - Yemen’s Houthi movement fired ballistic missiles at what it called “economic and vital targets” in the southern Saudi province of Jizan on Saturday, and Saudi authorities said a man was killed by debris from the projectiles.
The attack appeared to be retaliation promised by Yemen’s dominant political faction in a war there as thousands attended a funeral in the Houthi-run capital Sanaa for a top Houthi official killed in a Saudi-led air strike last week.
Eyewitnesses in Sanaa reported Saudi-led air raids on Saturday near the downtown rally for the burial of Saleh al-Samad, the president of the political body that runs Houthi-controlled northern Yemen. There were no reports of casualties.
The Houthis said they launched eight ballistic missiles at “economic and vital targets” in Saudi’s Jizan province on Saturday. Riyadh said it intercepted four of the projectiles.
Jizan civil defence spokesman Colonel Yahya Abdullah Al-Qahtani said on Arabiya TV that the Saudi man was killed by “falling fragments of military projectiles.”
A picture accompanying the Arabiya TV report appeared to show the outside of a civilian home pockmarked by shrapnel.
The two sides in Yemen have fought to a stalemate after more than three years of war. A Saudi-led military coalition is trying to restore Yemen’s internationally recognised government that was forced into exile after the Houthis took over large parts of the country in 2014 and seized the capital Sanaa.
Saudi and other warplanes from the mostly Gulf Arab alliance have carried out thousands of air strikes, repeatedly hitting markets, hospitals and other civilian targets, killing hundreds of civilians. The coalition says it does not target civilians.
In a televised speech, Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi vowed that the death of Samad — a relative moderate who helped oversee political and administrative duties while the Houthi military wing pursued fighting — would not split its ranks.
“They anticipated that this crime would break the spirit of the Yemeni people ... Our enemies have fantasized that the assassination of the president will lead to disagreements within the Ansarullah (Houthis). All this is a mirage and illusions.”
The Houthis have fired more than 100 ballistic missiles into the kingdom, causing few casualties, but fuelling accusations by their adversaries and the United States that Iran is providing the missiles to their Houthi allies.
Tehran and the Houthis deny the accusation. The group says it is fighting for Yemen’s sovereignty against a Western-backed plot to dominate the country.
Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Helen Popper