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Saudi pumping stations struck by drones carrying explosives, says minister

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih called the attacks 'acts of terrorism'
Outside Saudi Aramco's Natural Gas Liquids plant in the remote Empty Quarter near the United Arab Emirates (AFP)

Explosive-laden drones struck two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia, according to the kingdom's energy minister, following a claim by Yemen's Houthi rebels that they were targeting "vital Saudi installations".

Khalid al-Falih said on Tuesday that two oil pumping stations for the East-West pipeline had been hit in what he called "an act of terrorism" that targeted global oil supplies.

Falih said that Saudi oil output and exports for crude and refined products were continuing without disruption, but that the state oil giant Aramco had halted oil pumping in the pipeline while the damage was evaluated and the stations were repaired, according to a statement carried by the state news agency SPA.

The announcement by the foreign minister comes after a television station run by the Houthi movement said Yemeni rebels had launched drone attacks on Saudi installations, without identifying the targets or time of the attacks.

Saudi Arabia offered no immediate confirmation of the report.

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The Masirah TV report cited a Houthi military official as saying that "seven drones carried out attacks on vital Saudi installations".

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The Houthis have repeatedly launched drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and claimed to have launched drone attacks on the UAE.

On Twitter, Al Masirah cited the official as saying, "This large military operation is in response to the continued aggression and blockade of our people and we are prepared to carry out more unique and harsh strikes."

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading the coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis to try to restore the internationally recognised government ousted from power in late 2014.

The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis deny being Iranian proxies and say their revolution is against corruption.

The pipeline attacks follow a report that two Saudi ships were targeted in UAE waters on Sunday in alleged attacks that have not been claimed by any group. Two other vessels were allegedly also damaged off Fujairah port in UAE waters.

There were no casualties or oil spillages as a result of the attack but the ships suffered "significant damage", Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday.

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