RIYADH, Dec 20, (AFP): A missile fired from war-torn Yemen has struck a Saudi border city, killing three civilians, the kingdom said, in yet another violation of a ceasefire aimed at helping peace talks. Saturday’s attack on Najran left one Saudi citizen and two Indian workers dead, according to a civil defence spokesman quoted by the official SPA news agency. India’s consul general in Jeddah, B.S. Mubarak, confirmed that two Indians from the southern state of Tamil Nadu were killed in the attack near a museum on the edge of Najran. Another Indian was killed in shelling in the border region about six months ago, he said.
The latest incident comes after the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed rebels in Yemen announced that two ballistic missiles were fired Friday at the kingdom from its neighbour. One of the missiles was intercepted by Saudi air defences, while the other struck a desert area east of Najran, the coalition said without reporting any casualties in that incident. The attack had prompted Saudi Arabia’s border guard to repeat a warning that residents should stay away from the frontier.
On Thursday the civil defence agency said a civilian had been wounded in the Jazan border region by shelling from Yemen. The ceasefire has been repeatedly breached since it came into force as UNsponsored talks opened Tuesday in Switzerland. Since March, Saudi Arabia has led an Arab coalition whose warplanes and troops have supported embattled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi against the rebels who have seized the capital and other areas. More than 5,800 people have been killed — about half of them civilians — and over 27,000 wounded in Yemen since then, according to the UN. In Saudi Arabia, more than 80 people, most of them soldiers and border guards, have died in shelling and cross-border skirmishes since March.
Yemen’s warring parties have agreed to meet for a new round of talks on Jan 14, the UN mediator said Sunday as six days of talks in Switzerland ended without any substantial progress. “We have decided to hold the next round of talks on Jan 14,” UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed told reporters, adding that the location of the next round had yet to be decided. A halt to the violence is sorely needed in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest nation, where the UN says fighting since March has killed thousands of people and left around 80 percent of the population needing humanitarian aid. But the talks in Switzerland, which have been held since Tuesday in a remote part of Bern canton to keep media at bay, ended without any major steps forward. The talks have been marred from the start by repeated violations of a ceasefire, which in theory began Tuesday and had been scheduled to last a week, but has been breached daily.