RIYADH              -             Saudi air defences intercepted ballistic missiles over Riyadh and a city along the Yemen border late Saturday, leaving at least two civilians wounded in the curfew-locked capital amid efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Multiple explosions shook Riyadh in the attack, which the Saudi-led military coalition blamed on Yemen’s Iran-aligned Huthi rebels who have previously targeted Saudi cities with missiles, rockets and drones. It was the first major assault on Saudi Arabia since the Huthis offered last September to halt attacks on the kingdom after devastating twin strikes on Saudi oil installations. “Two ballistic missiles were launched towards the cities of Riyadh and Jizan,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing the coalition fighting the rebels. Their interception sent shrapnel falling on residential neighbourhoods in the cities, resulting in two civilian casualties in Riyadh, a civil defence spokesman said in a separate statement released by SPA. There was no immediate comment from the rebels. At least three blasts rocked the capital -- under a 15-hour coronavirus curfew -- just before midnight, according to AFP reporters.

 Jizan, like many other Saudi cities, faces a shorter dusk-to-dawn curfew.

The assault comes despite a show of support on Thursday by all of Yemen’s warring parties for the United Nations’ call for a ceasefire to protect civilians from the coronavirus pandemic. Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni government and the rebels all welcomed an appeal from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for an “immediate global ceasefire” to help avert disaster for vulnerable people in conflict zones.

The call coincided with the fifth anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen’s civil war, which was launched to shore up the internationally recognised government against the Huthi rebels.