Saudi defence systems foil drone and missile attacks in kingdom's Eastern Province

Ballistic missile intercepted near Dhahran, after failed drone attack on Ras Tanura

Crude oil storage tanks stand at the oil refinery operated by Saudi Aramco in Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia, on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. Saudi Aramco aims to become a global refiner and chemical maker, seeking to profit from parts of the oil industry where demand is growing the fastest while also underpinning the kingdom’s economic diversification. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
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Saudi Arabia intercepted missile and drone attacks on its oil facilities in the Eastern Province on Sunday, that were claimed by Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Energy said a drone attack on a petroleum plant at Ras Tanura port was thwarted on Sunday morning, while a ballistic missile was intercepted near an Aramco housing complex in Dhahran, about 80 kilometres to the south, in the evening.

There were no injuries sustained in either attack, a ministry spokesman said.

The Saudi Ministry of Defence later released more details of the attacks.

“The attacking, bomb-laden UAV [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle] that came via the sea was intercepted and destroyed prior to reaching its target," the ministry said.

"The ballistic missile that was launched to target Aramco facilities in Dhahran was intercepted and destroyed as well. The interception resulted in scattered debris that fell in proximity to civilians and civilian objects."

Yemen's Houthi rebels said on Twitter that they had fired drones and missiles at Ras Tanura and military targets in the area of Dammam, which is close to Dhahran.

The sites targeted on Sunday are part of key oil infrastructure on Saudi Arabia's Arabian Gulf coast, which was targeted by drones and missiles in September 2019.

That attack damaged oil-processing facilities at Buqaiq, near Dhahran, and the Khurais oilfield further inland, and temporarily disabled half of Saudi Arabia's oil output.

Saudi Arabia said at the time that the drones were unlikely to have been launched from Yemen, while the US claimed Iran was behind the attack.

The defence ministry said Sunday's attacks targeted "the backbone of the world economy, oil supplies and global energy security".

The ministry said it would "undertake all necessary measures to safeguard its national assets in a manner that preserves the security of global energy, puts an end to these acts of terrorism, guarantees the security and stability of oil supplies, protects security of petroleum exports and safeguards freedom of shipping and international trade”.

The Houthis have stepped up attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, amid an offensive to seize the Yemeni government's last northern stronghold of Marib.

The Saudi-led coalition is supporting the Yemeni government.

Saudi Arabia reported intercepting more than 20 drones and missiles launched at civilian targets in the south of the kingdom over the past week.

The rebels' military escalation comes as the UN and US step up efforts to bring about a political solution to Yemen's civil war, which began when the rebels seized the capital, Sanaa in September 2014.