World newswires

Eritrea condemns Saudi pipeline attacks

Eritrea on Thursday condemned drone attacks on a key Saudi oil pipeline by Yemeni rebels, which Riyadh believes were ordered by its arch-rival Tehran.

Yemen's Huthi rebels targeted two pumping stations on a key oil pipeline with drone attacks Tuesday, ratcheting up Gulf tensions after the mysterious sabotage of several Saudi tankers.

"The drone attacks on Saudi oil pipelines is aimed at exacerbating regional and international tensions in the region," Eritrea's information ministry said, in a rare statement from the isolated north African country.

"The people and government of Eritrea express their solidarity with the people and government of Saudi Arabia against this senseless attack."

Eritrea, a tiny nation strategically located on the Bab al-Mandab strait linking the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, has close ties to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In 2015, the United Nations monitoring group on Somalia and Eritrea reported that Eritrea had struck a military deal allowing the Arab coalition to use its "land, airspace and territorial waters" in their campaign against the Huthi rebels in Yemen.

"The monitoring group understands that, as part of the arrangement, Eritrea has received compensation from the two countries, including monetary compensation and fuel supplies," read their report.

Eritrea plunged into repression and isolationism following a 1998-2000 border war with its much larger neighbour Ethiopia.

The two nations inked a historic peace deal in July last year, and the UN lifted an arms embargo as well as travel bans, asset freezes and targeted sanctions against the country.

However there has been little sign of reform from Asmara, with dissidents still languishing in jail and young men and women still forced into perpetual national service that has led many to flee the country.