Sanaa (AFP) - Saudi Arabia said Saturday at least 500 Shiite insurgents have been killed in border clashes since the coalition it heads launched air strikes against the Huthi rebels in war-battered Yemen.

A defence ministry statement in Riyadh also said three soldiers were killed in a mortar attack on the kingdom's border with Yemen on Friday.

The statement gave the first reported death toll for border clashes since the coalition launched air strikes against Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen last month.

Earlier, coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri told journalists at his daily briefing in Riyadh there had been 1,200 coalition air strikes between March 26 and midday Saturday