Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group attacked the United Arab Emirates, setting off explosions in fuel trucks that killed three people on Monday and caused a fire near the airport of Abu Dhabi, drawing condemnation from the United States.
The strike on a leading Gulf Arab ally of the United States takes the war between the Houthi group and a Saudi-led coalition to a new level, and may hinder efforts to contain regional tensions as Washington and Tehran work to rescue a nuclear deal.
“The UAE condemns this terrorist attack by the Houthi militia on areas and civilian facilities on Emirati soil…(It) will not go unpunished,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “The UAE reserves the right to respond to these terrorist attacks and criminal escalation.”
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in a statement said “The United States strongly condemns today’s terrorist attack in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, which killed three innocent civilians. The Houthis have claimed responsibility for this attack, and we will work with the UAE and international partners to hold them accountable.”
The Houthi group said that missiles and drones carried out the strike.
The UAE, a member of the Saudi-led coalition, has armed and trained local Yemeni forces that recently joined fighting against the Houthis in Yemen’s energy-producing Shabwa and Marib regions.
“With (nuclear) negotiators running out of time, the risk of a deterioration in the region’s security climate is rising,” said Torbjorn Soltvedt, principal MENA analyst at risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft.
The Houthi movement has frequently launched cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, but has claimed few such attacks on the UAE, mostly denied by Emirati authorities.
Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said the group launched five ballistic missiles and “a large number” of drones at Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports, an oil refinery in Musaffah and several “sensitive and important” sites in the UAE. C6N2TI01B
Abu Dhabi police said three people were killed and six wounded when three fuel tanker trucks exploded in the industrial Musaffah area near storage facilities of oil firm ADNOC. State media said those killed were two Indians and a Pakistani.
Abu Dhabi police said initial investigations found parts of small planes that could possibly be drones at the sites in Musaffah and Abu Dhabi airport, but they made no mention of missiles.