Bahrain’s military command has accused Yemen’s Houthi fighters of killing two Bahraini soldiers in a drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s southern border with Yemen.
A number of Bahraini soldiers were also wounded in the attack, Bahrain’s military said in a statement, which was carried by the official Bahrain News Agency on Monday. The exact number of soldiers wounded was not released.
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“This terrorist attack was carried out by the Houthis, who sent aircraft targeting the position of the Bahraini guards on the southern border of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia despite the halt of military operations between the warring sides in Yemen,” the Bahraini military statement said.
The island nation of Bahrain is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, which has been at war with Iran-aligned Houthi fighters in Yemen for several years.
The Houthis did not immediately acknowledge carrying out the attack. There was also no mention of an attack on the media and social media operations run by the Houthis, whose negotiators earlier this month held talks with Saudi Arabian officials on a potential agreement paving the way to an end to the conflict in Yemen.
It was unclear if the drone attack and killing of the Bahraini soldiers would derail the peace talks.
The Saudi Arabian-led coalition warned Houthi fighters that “such repeated hostile and provocative actions are not consistent with the positive efforts being made … to end the crisis and reach a comprehensive political solution”.
The coalition said it “reserves the right to respond at the appropriate time and place”.
The US State Department condemned the attack, and said that the US would continue pushing for a peace deal in Yemen.
“We will continue to work with our partners in the region to begin a Yemeni-Yemeni process to reach lasting peace,” the State Department said.
Nabeel Khoury, a former chief of the United States mission to Yemen, told Al Jazeera that the attack appeared to be the result of “normal tensions” on a front line.
“I would think, unless there is somebody trying to provoke something, that it is an incident which will pass and not have too many consequences,” Khoury said.
Yemen’s internationally-recognised government condemned the drone attack on Monday.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Bin Mubarak said he spoke by phone with Bahrain’s chief diplomat, Abdullatif al-Zayani, offering his condolences and solidarity with Bahrain.
Yemen’s war began in 2014, when the Houthis swept down from their northern stronghold and seized the capital, Sanaa, along with much of the country’s north. In response, a Saudi Arabian-led coalition military coalition intervened in 2015 to try to restore the internationally-recognised government to power.
The fighting soon devolved into a stalemated proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, killing hundreds of thousands and causing widespread hunger and misery in Yemen, which even before the conflict had been the Arab world’s poorest country.
Saudi Arabia and Iran restored diplomatic relations earlier this year in a deal brokered by China, further raising hopes for an end to Yemen’s conflict. Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia welcomed a Houthi delegation for peace talks, saying the negotiations had “positive results”.
A UN-brokered ceasefire had already largely halted the violence and Yemen has seen only sporadic clashes since the truce expired nearly a year ago. But diplomats have warned that the situation remains volatile.