Saudi Forces destroy explosive laden boat and missile targets in Yemen
JEDDAH: Saudi forces destroyed explosives-laden boats and launched airstrikes in Yemen on Saturday after Huthi rebel drones and missiles hit targets around the country, setting off an inferno at an oil plant within sight of Jeddah's Formula One race.
Three people were killed in the operation against the booby-trapped boats, according to the Saudi-led coalition, which also carried out air raids on the Yemeni cities of Sanaa and Hodeida overnight.
It marked a violent seventh anniversary of the coalition's military intervention in Saudi Arabia's impoverished neighbour Yemen after the Huthis had seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.
Thousands of people marched in Sanaa on Saturday to denounce a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands directly or indirectly, according to the UN and left millions on the brink of famine.
However, there were signs of diplomacy as a senior Saudi official told AFP the rebels had offered a ceasefire and peace talks in exchange for opening up Sanaa's airport and the lifeline port of Hodeida.
"The Huthis put forward an initiative through mediators that includes a truce, opening the airport (Sanaa) and the port (Hodeida) and Yemeni-Yemeni discussions," said the official, on condition of anonymity.
"We are waiting for it to be officially announced because they (Huthis) are constantly changing their words," he added. No immediate comment was available from the rebels.
Four boats laden with explosives were destroyed at Salif, a Red Sea port north of Jeddah, a day after the Yemeni attacks on a televised F1 practice day spooked drivers and threw the race into doubt.
"We targeted four booby-trapped boats in Salif port, which is under preparation, and thwarted an imminent attack on oil tankers," the coalition said, according to state television. -APP/AFP