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Two Bahraini soldiers were killed in a drone attack launched by rebels on the Yemeni border with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain said on Monday.

The strike by the Iran-backed Houthi movement against a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen’s war risks undermining recent diplomatic efforts to secure a permanent ceasefire to end the conflict.

Bahrain’s state news agency said an army officer and soldier died while others had been wounded in the attack on the southern borders of Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led coalition, which includes Bahrain, intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March 2015 after the Houthis took control of Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, and forced the government into exile.

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has stepped up diplomatic efforts to end the conflict. A fragile truce between the Arab coalition and the Yemeni rebels has been holding since April 2022, and a Houthi delegation visited Riyadh last week for talks with Saudi officials.

It was the first official rebel delegation to visit Saudi Arabia since the war erupted and, after five days of talks, Riyadh said it “welcomed the positive results of the serious discussions regarding reaching a road map to support the peace path in Yemen”.

But after the deaths of the Bahraini soldiers, brigadier general Turki al-Maliki, the Saudi coalition spokesman, described the attack as “a treacherous act of aggression”.

He said it was carried out by “some elements of the Houthis”, adding that over the past month an electricity distribution plant and a police station had also been targeted in the Saudi border region.

Maliki warned that the acts of “repeated provocation don’t conform with the positive efforts that are being expended to end the crisis and reach a comprehensive political solution”.

The United Arab Emirates, one of the key members of the coalition, said the attack represented “a disregard for all international laws and norms” and required “a deterrent response”.

The Houthis control most of Yemen’s populous north, while Yemeni factions backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE control the south.

The conflict has triggered what the UN has described as the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crisis, with estimates that more than 300,000 people have died because of fighting, famine and disease.

All the warring parties have been accused of abuses, with the coalition condemned for killing thousands of Yemeni civilians in air strikes on Yemen.

Before the truce was agreed, the Houthis launched regular missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, targeting airports, oil facilities and other infrastructure.

Riyadh has stepped up its efforts to extract itself from the conflict in recent years as it has focused ambitious domestic development plans on areas including the western and southern regions that were targeted by Houthi missiles and drones.

Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of supplying the rebels with increasingly sophisticated missile and drone technology.

But tensions between Riyadh and Tehran have eased after they agreed in March to restore diplomatic relations as part of an agreement brokered by China.

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