UAE: Three killed in suspected Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi
One Pakistani national and two Indians were killed on Monday after an explosion of several petroleum tanker trucks in Abu Dhabi, in what the United Arab Emirates says is a suspected drone attack, the state news agency WAM reported.
Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement claimed an attack on the UAE shortly after the Gulf state reported the incidents. They did not however confirm the type or location of attacks.
Later on Monday, the UAE foreign ministry said it "reserves the right to respond" to the Houthi "terrorist" attacks.
“This terrorist militia continues its crimes unchecked in an effort to spread terrorism and chaos in the region in order to achieve its illegal aims and objectives,” a statement by the ministry said.
WAM cited Abu Dhabi police as saying that a fire broke out on Monday morning, which led to three fuel tanker trucks exploding in the industrial Musaffah area near storage facilities of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).
Meanwhile, a minor fire was also reported at a new construction site at Abu Dhabi International Airport, a police statement said. It said no significant damages resulted from the two incidents.
Social media footage, which Middle East Eye could not independently verify, showed a large plume of smoke rising from what was purportedly the Musaffah area Monday morning.
Footage from 4 hours ago in #AbuDhabi, #UAE from Snapchat shows a large plume of smoke rising from the area near the reported attack. Footage was taken from https://t.co/TX9XEzHluv pic.twitter.com/9mWdgXRUMW— Aurora Intel (@AuroraIntel) January 17, 2022
“Preliminary investigations indicate the detection of small flying objects, possibly belonging to drones, that fell in the two areas and may have caused the explosion and fire. The competent authorities were sent and the fire is being dealt with,” the police said.
“The competent authorities have launched an extensive investigation into the cause of the fire and the circumstances surrounding it.”
Meanwhile, the military spokesman of the Iran-aligned Houthis was quoted by the Al-Masirah news channel as saying that the group had launched a military operation in "the heart of the UAE" and would announce details in the coming hours.
The attacks come in the aftermath of UAE-backed forces forcing Houthi fighters from Yemen's southeastern Shabwah province and advancing into Houthi-held areas of Marib to the north.
The Saudi-led coalition fighting against the Houthis in Yemen later announced on Monday that it destroyed three drones launched in the direction of southern Saudi Arabia, according to Saudi state TV.
The coalition has announced major advances against the Houthis in recent weeks. On Sunday, it said it killed more than 220 Houthi soldiers in air strikes on Marib province, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
The UAE was part of the Saudi-led coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to reinstate the internationally recognised government of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who was ousted by the Houthis in late 2014.
The Gulf country has, however, reduced its military presence in Yemen since 2019, but retains influence through backing Yemeni fighters.
The Houthis have frequently claimed drone and missile attacks on neighbouring Saudi Arabia during the war, but they claimed only a few attacks on the UAE, which the Emirati authorities denied.
Two weeks ago, the Houthis said they seized a UAE-flagged ship, the Rwabee, off the Yemen coast, claiming it was carrying "weapons for extremists." The 11 crew members of the ship remain hostages. Abu Dhabi denounced the incident as "a dangerous escalation".
The Yemeni rebels also turned down a UN Security Council demand to release the ship.