A fiery explosion lit up the skyline over the Saudi city of Jeddah on Friday morning, clearly visible from the F1 circuit where the Saudi Grand Prix is due to take place on Sunday.
Iran-backed Houthi insurgents in Yemen have released a declaration claiming they have launched a series of attacks “deep” into Saudi territory.
Ahead of big F1 race, reports of Iranian-backed forces hitting Aramco oil tanks in Jeddahpic.twitter.com/9BasltmPtU
—Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) March 25, 2022
Yemeni military says it targeted Aramco facilities in Saudi cities of Jeddah, Jizan and Najran with missile strike pic.twitter.com/orACyJVkyd
– Press TV (@PressTV) March 25, 2022
— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 25, 2022
F1 racers saw, heard and smelled the explosion, leading some to believe the fumes had something to do with racing:
Max Verstappen thought his car was on fire after smelling fumes from a huge explosion near the Jeddah circuit https://t.co/FAnrpJdumD
– Sun Sport (@SunSport) March 25, 2022
The fireball appeared to erupt from the bulk plant in northern Jeddah, which stores nearly a quarter of Saudi Arabia’s fuel stock for land and air vehicles, as well as fuel supplies for a crucial water desalination plant near Jeddah. The fuel storage facility was one of the main targets of a wave of Houthi terrorist attacks last weekend but suffered only minor damage, according to Saudi officials.
Saudi public television on Friday reported attacks on water tanks in the city of Dharan and an electricity substation near the Yemeni border.
Houthi-controlled al-Masirah satellite news channel in Yemen noted Friday that “more details” would soon be released on alleged attacks on Saudi civilian targets, but did not explicitly claim responsibility for the Jeddah blast.
The Houthis have been classified as a foreign terrorist organization by the Trump administration, but the designation has been canceled by President Joe Biden shortly after taking office. The Saudi government warned this week, the Houthis’ continued attacks on their oil infrastructure could hamper their ability to supply oil during the global 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, as well as drone attacks on Saudi refineries at Ras Tanura and Rabigh. Sarea said the Houthis also attacked targets in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
Update, 1:20 p.m. EST: Saudi state media quoted a spokesman for the Yemeni counter-insurgency military coalition as saying one ballistic missile and ten bomb-laden drones were intercepted on Friday. The Houthis’ weapons targeted several different towns. The coalition said relatively minor damage was inflicted on several targets, as well as collateral damage to civilian vehicles and residences, but none were serious and there was no loss of life.