Houthi rebels claim downing of Saudi-led coalition's drone over Yemen's capital

A passerby walks past in front of a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo Japan

Oil prices rose almost 2 per cent on Tuesday after top exporter Saudi Arabia said explosive-laden drones launched by a Yemeni-armed movement aligned to Iran had attacked facilities belonging to state oil company Aramco. The narrow waterway separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula.

The Council of Ministers of Yemen, in a statement following its weekly Cabinet meeting under the chairmanship of Dr. Mueen Abdulmalik, in Aden, expressed full solidarity with Saudi Arabia.

A satellite image obtained by The Associated Press shows one of the two pumping stations attacked by the drones apparently intact. The pipeline mainly transports crude from the kingdom's eastern fields to the port of Yanbu, which lies north of Bab al-Mandeb.

US national security agencies believe proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran may have attacked four tankers off the United Arab Emirates rather than Iranian forces themselves, a USA official familiar with the latest US assessments said on Tuesday.

The Muslim World League and the Council of Arab Ministers of Interior were among the first to slam the acts of sabotage which they described as not only a threat to Middle East and world security but also the stability of global energy supplies.

Huthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam wrote on Twitter that the attacks were "a response to the aggressors continuing to commit genocide" against the Yemeni people.

"We are capable of executing unique operations on a bigger and wider scale in the hearts of the enemy countries", they said.

Saudi Arabia has been at war with the Houthis and their allies in Yemen since March 2015, targeting the Iranian-allied rebels with near daily airstrikes.

- A senior military officer in the USA -backed coalition fighting the Islamic State group says "there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria".

Saudi Arabia said earlier that two of its oil tankers were among those attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, incidents which ratcheted up tensions in the world's top oil-exporting region.

"There could be a pretty serious conflict with Iran should they do something to US forces in the region, and that would spike the price of oil", said Josh Graves, senior commodities strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago.

John Bolton, the White House national security adviser and a longtime Iran hawk, announces the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force in response to "a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings", without providing details.

In Washington, Trump told reporters he would "absolutely" be willing to send troops to the Mideast, but he's not planned for that and hopefully won't have to plan for that.

"Now, would I do that?" Hopefully we're not going to have to plan for that.

No casualties were reported and none of the vessels sank.

The Bahrain Foreign Affairs Ministry said the attacks threatened the safety of world energy supplies and stressed the need for the worldwide community to combat all groups and terrorist organizations, and any parties or states supporting them. He added that the kingdom's oil production has not been affected by the attack.

The owner of the Norwegian vessel, Thome Ship Management, said the vessel had been "struck by an unknown object".

Asked whether the USA believed Iran played a role in the attacks, Washington's Iran envoy Brian Hook declined to comment, saying only that US authorities would help the investigation at the request of the UAE.

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths voiced his deep concern about the ongoing escalation in Dhale, and urged all parties to exercise utmost restraint.

Still, the build was smaller than the almost 9 million-barrel build estimate on Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade group, which helped lift crude price sentiment.

May 8: Iran threatens to enrich its uranium stockpile closer to weapons-grade levels starting July 7 if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for its nuclear deal.

Tehran has been embroiled in an escalating war of words with the United States over stricter USA sanctions, which have cut its oil exports and tightened global supply.

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