Saudi foils explosive-laden boat attack at major energy facility

Saudi foils explosive-laden boat attack at major energy facility
The thwarted attack targeted an Aramco petroleum terminal in the Kingdom's Jizan province. No injuries were reported, the ministry reported.
2 min read
26 April, 2017
Houthi forces have previously targeted Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia [File photo/Getty]

Saudi authorities thwarted an attempt to target a major oil plant in the country using an unmanned boat rigged with explosives, according to a statement from the country's interior ministry on Wednesday. 

The incident took place close to a petroleum production terminal run by Saudi oil giant Aramco in the southern Jizan province. 

"The boat was spotted when it departed from a small island in Yemeni waters and gained speed after entering Saudi waters," the interior ministry said in a statement distributed by the SPA news agency. 

Coastguard units consequently fired on the boats engine bringing it to a halt 2.8 kilometres from the Aramco terminal, the statement continued. 

An unverified video purporting to show the incident began circulating on the social media site Instagram on Tuesday.

No injuries were reported by the interior ministry which blamed Houthi rebels for the attack.

Riyadh claims that the Iran-backed Yemeni group - which controls much of northern Yemen - was "threatening waterways and naval facilities using booby-trapped boats and naval mines".

Saudi Arabia currently leads a military coalition of Arab states against Houthi rebels in Yemen in support of the government of exiled president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi. 

Since the first strikes in 2015, the Saudi-coalition has conducted a devastating aerial campaign over Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

It has received criticism from rights groups for attacks that routinely result in civilian deaths. 

For their part, Houthi rebels regularly launch cross-border rocket attacks targeting Saudi territory.

They have also fired on Saudi and coalition military vessels and cargo shipping around the Bab el-Mandeb straits, which links the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean - one of the busiest shipping routes in the world.

Houthi rebels have also previously targeted Aramco facilities in Jizan, while in January a Saudi-lead coalition spokesman said that two Saudi servicemen had been killed in an attack on a frigate warship involving three "suicide boats" off the coast of Houthi-held Hodeida.

Jazan province is a major centre for Saudi Arabia's oil and gas industry. Aramco is currently in the process of developing a $2.1 billion industrial gas complex in the area.