Saudi university catches fire near Yemen border in attack


JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — A Saudi university near the country’s border with Yemen caught fire early Wednesday after the kingdom’s air defenses intercepted a barrage of ballistic missiles and bomb-laden drones.

The interception scattered debris on Jizan University’s campus, which caused a fire that has been contained, the Saudi-led coalition at war in Yemen said in a statement. It said no one was killed, but there was no immediate report of injuries.

The statement blamed the Iran-backed Houthi group for the attack, saying the missiles and drones specifically targeted civilian areas and had been launched from the rebels’ stronghold of Saada in Yemen. The Houthis have carried out similar attacks in the past.

The six-year-long conflict in Yemen was sparked by the Houthis takeover of the capital, Sanaa, in 2014, which forced the internationally recognized government to flee the city. A Saudi-led coalition supported by the U.S. and allied with the government has been fighting the Houthis nearly ever since.

The U.N. humanitarian office says the war has caused an estimated 233,000 deaths, including 131,000 from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services and infrastructure. The conflict came on the heels of years of unrest and protests in Yemen against endemic corruption and government mismanagement.

Political deadlock and conflict in Yemen have created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Aid groups report more than 20 million people in the impoverished Arab nation are experiencing food insecurity and half of them are at risk of famine.

Rights groups have criticized all sides in the conflict, but note that Saudi-led airstrikes have often been disproportionate and killed thousands of civilians.

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