Saudi Arabia says foils bombing attempt on Aramco fuel distribution terminal

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi forces have foiled an attempt to blow up an Aramco fuel terminal in southern Saudi Arabia using a high-speed boat laden with explosives, the interior ministry said on Wednesday, and accused Yemen’s Houthi group of being behind the attempt.

The ministry said in a statement that navy forces opened fire on the remote-controlled boat on Tuesday, after it was intercepted inside Saudi territorial waters some 1.5 nautical miles from its target.

There were no immediate reports of any injuries in the incident, which the statement said targeted an Aramco fuel terminal and distribution station in Jazan.

The statement accused the Iran-aligned Houthis of being behind the attempted attack, saying the group which controls much of northern Yemen was “threatening waterways and naval facilities using booby-trapped boats and naval mines”.

Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab coalition that is fighting the Houthis, who have seized much of northern Yemen since 2014 and forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile.

In January, Saudi Arabia said one of its frigates was damaged in a suicide boat attack by the Houthis off the Yemeni port of Hodeidah. The Houthis said the frigate was hit by a missile fired by the group.

The interior ministry statement said the boat was tracked from the moment it left a small Yemeni island, and as it accelerated when it entered Saudi territorial waters towards the terminal and fuel distribution station.

“When Saudi naval forces intercepted it, they found no one on it and that it was being remotely operated, which necessitated that it be dealt with by shooting at its engine,” the statement said.

Reporting by Mohamed El Sherif, writing by Sami Aboudi; editing by Ralph Boulton