Manama: Three people including two Indians and a Pakistani have been killed in a drone attack carried out by the Iran-backed Yemen’s Houthi militia targeting a key oil facility in Abu Dhabi on Monday. Six people sustained mild and moderate injuries as three fuel tanker trucks exploded near the storage facility of state owned oil company ADNOC, while a fire broke out at a construction site at Abu Dhabi airport.
The fire that broke out in Abu Dhabi on 10 am Monday leading to the explosion of three petroleum transport tankers in ICAD 3, Mussafah, near ADNOC’s storage facility, Abu Dhabi Police said. The site is around 22 kilometres away from the capital city, Abu Dhabi. The district has an oil pipeline network and 36 storage tanks, from which lorries transport fuel nationwide. The site is roughly 1,100 miles from the closest Houthi stronghold in Yemen.
Yemen's Houthi militia later claimed responsibility for the attack. The rebels announced that it had carried out a “military operation” deep in the UAE, a partner in Yemen’s pro-government coalition, in what would be a major escalation in the seven-year war.
The UAE has strongly condemned the Houthi terrorist attacks that targeted civil installations and areas in the country and reaffirmed this sinful targeting will not go unpunished.
Abu Dhabi police earlier said that drones may have caused an explosion on oil tankers and a minor fire at an airport extension in Abu Dhabi. Police said “small flying objects” were found at both places, suggesting the sort of deliberate attack that is almost unheard of in the wealthy UAE, a renowned safe haven in the volatile Middle East.
While the identity of the two Indians is yet to be established, the Indian Embassy in the UAE confirmed the deaths on Monday evening. The embassy is still trying to get details of the two Indians who were among three killed in an explosion near capital Abu Dhabi, Sunjay Sudhir, Indian Envoy to the United Arab Emirates, said. He added that the country is "a very safe place" and that's the message they are trying to communicate to the Indian community. He appealed to the Indian community in UAE, and also people in India who have relatives and friends in the country, to stay calm.
According to a Reuters report, the Abu Dhabi police said in a statement that “initial investigations found parts of a small plane that could possibly be a drone at both sites that could have caused the explosion and the fire”. Fires caused by the blasts were brought under control by emergency crews, police said. The terminals at Abu Dhabi airport were not affected or damaged due to the fire.
The incident in Abu Dhabi comes just days after a UAE ship was seized by the Houthis, in which there are people including an Alappuzha native on board. The Houthis have not yet complied with the UN's call for the immediate release of the ship and its crew.
Houthi military spokesman Yahia Sarei said that more details of the attack will be announced "in the coming hours". Abdul Ilah Hajar, adviser to the president of the Houthis’ Supreme Political Council in Sanaa, said
it was a warning shot from the rebels.
This is the first known major attack by the Houthis against the UAE. Though the militia has targeted the UAE with drones, but, the attacks often go unclaimed or they're downplayed by the Emiratis. The rebels have previously threatened to target Abu Dhabi and Dubai after losing the key area of Shabwa, which is near the city of Ma’arib in north-east Yemen and is regarded as central to the fate of the war.
The Saudi-led coalition said later on Monday it had downed three drones in southern Saudi Arabia. Drone attacks are a hallmark of the Houthis’ assaults on Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has been targeted by drones and ballistic missiles fired from Yemen throughout the war. The Houthis have carried out several drone missile attacks on various gas bases and in Saudi Arabia in the recent past. On September 16, 2019, Houthi attacked Abqaiq crude processing plant and Khurais oil field with drones. In March 2021, during a spate of attacks, Houthis hit Aramco oil facilities in Jeddah with a missile, and an oil storage yard at Ras Tanura Port.
In a statement, ADNOC said they are deeply saddened by the loss of its three employees and said that professional support teams are supporting the families of all those who have been impacted.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq condemned the attacks and expressed solidarity with the Emirates. The US and Britain also condemned the attack.
In New York, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres condemned the attack.