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Saudi Arabia tests siren after Yemen rebels fire new missiles

By AFP - May 10,2018 - Last updated at May 10,2018

RIYADH/UNITED NATIONS — Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it tested a new siren system for the capital Riyadh and oil-rich Eastern Province, the day after Yemeni rebels fired three ballistic missiles at the kingdom.

The Saudi civil defence posted a video on its official site of the alarm system being tested.

It said in a statement the system was designed to "face risks of all kinds" and alert the population "in case of emergency".

Yemen's Iran-allied Houthi rebels have in recent months ramped up missile attacks against neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition against them.

The Shiite insurgents announced they had fired two ballistic missiles at Riyadh and a third at the southern city of Jizan near the border, on Wednesday alone.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said the kingdom's air defences intercepted all three, in statements carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Riyadh has long accused Tehran of supplying the rebels with ballistic missiles, a charge the latter rejects.

Wednesday’s salvo came after US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, which he criticised for excluding measures to curb the Islamic republic’s ballistic missile programme.

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in Yemen in 2015 with the aim of pushing back the rebels and restoring the internationally recognised government to power.

The conflict has left 9,479 people dead and more than 55,000 wounded according to the World Health Organisation.

More than 2,200 others have died of cholera and millions are on the verge of famine in what the United Nations says is the world’s gravest humanitarian crisis.

On Wednesday, UN chief Antonio Guterres denounced “the recent and sharp escalation in the Yemen conflict”, after strikes targeting rebels in Sanaa were met with an attempted attack aimed at Saudi Arabia.

On Monday, the Saudi-led coalition said it was behind two air raids on the office of the presidency in Yemen’s rebel-held capital, which were reported to have killed six people and wounded dozens.

Then on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s air defences intercepted two ballistic missiles over the capital Riyadh, the latest in a series of attacks claimed by rebels in neighboring Yemen.

Guterres is “deeply concerned” over the exchanges, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

“The secretary general appeals to the parties to refrain from further escalation as this adversely impacts the chances for peace,” the statement said.

“The secretary general reminds all parties to the conflict that they must uphold international humanitarian law, including taking steps to protect civilians.”

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