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2 Indians among 3 killed in drone strikes on UAE by Yemen’s Houthi fighters

Six others were also injured in the rare attack inside the UAE that caused a fire at Abu Dhabi’s main international airport and set fuel tanks ablaze in a nearby industrial area.

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Lebanon: Yemen’s Houthi fighters said Monday they had launched drone strikes on the United Arab Emirates that caused an explosion and fire on the outskirts of the capital Abu Dhabi leaving three people dead.

The rare attacks inside the UAE caused a fire at Abu Dhabi’s main international airport and set fuel tanks ablaze in a nearby industrial area.

A preliminary investigation indicates small flying objects, likely drones, fell in both areas and may have triggered the blasts, the UAE’s state-run WAM news agency said. Three people — two Indians and one Pakistani — were killed and six others injured in the fuel tank fire, Abu Dhabi police said in a statement.

The Persian Gulf, a major energy export region, has seen waves of attacks on shipping since the U.S. withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018. Washington has blamed the attacks on Iranian-backed militias, including Houthi fighters in Yemen.

Stock markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi reversed gains made before the attacks.

“The suspected drone attack in Abu Dhabi underscores the ongoing threat against civilian and energy infrastructure in the region amid heightened regional tensions,” said Torbjorn Soltvedt, an analyst at risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft. “Reports of damage to fuel trucks and storage will concern oil market watchers who are also keeping a close eye on the trajectory of ongoing nuclear talks between the US and Iran. With negotiators running out of time, the risk of a deterioration in the region’s security climate is rising.”

The Houthis regularly attack neighboring Saudi Arabia with missiles and drones. Though the attacks rarely cause casualties, a strike on a major oil facility in 2019 shook global markets and raised fears of a new Middle east conflagration. The latest incident follows an uptick in maritime attacks in recent weeks as talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran enter a critical stage.

The latest attacks come days after the Houthis warned Abu Dhabi against increased military involvement in Yemen’s energy-rich province of Shabwa. Forces loyal to Yemen’s internationally-recognized government drove the Houthis out of three districts of Shabwa in a 10-day offensive in recent weeks, helped by intense Saudi and UAE air strikes.

The UAE joined a Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 after the Houthis swept through the north of the country. The UN has called the conflict — in which tens of thousands of people have died — the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The UAE began withdrawing from Yemen in late 2019, partly to avert attracting attacks on its own soil, but maintained links to separatist groups and has increased air strikes in recent weeks.

Roads near the Musaffah industrial area were closed as of 2:30pm local time. Several police and civil defence vehicles could be seen entering the area while alarms continued to ring. No smoke or damage to the several large fuel tanks owned by ADNOC, the Abu Dhabi oil company, could be seen from a distance. The Al Dhafra airbase is near the site.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the UAE’s de facto ruler, canceled a planned meeting with visiting South Korean President Moon Jae-in Moon on Monday due to an “unforeseen matter of state,” South Korea’s presidential office said, without elaborating. It wasn’t clear if the cancellation was linked to the attack.-Bloomberg

Also read: ‘Correct mistake’: China tells US to take responsibility for Iran nuclear deal


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