Yemen rebel attack on Saudi oil plant sets off huge fire by F1 track

RIYADH (AFP): Yemeni rebels attacked a Saudi Aramco oil facility setting off a huge fire visible from Jeddah’s Formula One track as part of a wave of attacks on Friday.

“We did several attacks with drones and ballistic missiles,” the Iran-backed Huthi rebels said in a statement, including an “Aramco installation in Jeddah (and) vital installations in Riyadh”.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-backed rebels confirmed the attack, which comes ahead of the seventh anniversary of its military intervention in the brutal civil war in Yemen.

Smoke billowed near Jeddah’s F1 track as drivers took part in practice runs, with Red Bull’s world champion Max Verstappen saying he could smell the blaze as he drove.

“I can smell burning… is it my car?” the Dutchman asked over team radio.

The rebels claimed 16 attacks on a number of targets including an electrical station in Jizan, bordering Yemen, which was set ablaze.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened to support Yemen’s internationally recognised government in 2015, after the rebels seized the capital Sanaa the previous year.