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An aerial view of Abu Dhabi airport
A fire broke out at an extension of Abu Dhabi airport, police saidImage: UIG/imago images
ConflictsUnited Arab Emirates

Several killed in drone attack in Abu Dhabi

January 17, 2022

At least three people were killed and six others were wounded after three oil tankers exploded in Abu Dhabi. Drones are believed to have caused the blast. Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group claimed responsibility.


Drones sparked an explosion on three oil tankers in Abu Dhabi and may have caused a separate fire at an extension of Abu Dhabi Airport, police said on Monday.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) state-run news agency said that the suspected drone attacks killed three people and injured an additional six.

Senior Emirati diplomat Anwar Gargash blamed Yemen's Houthi rebels for the attack, and the group later claimed responsibility.

At a press conference late Monday, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said the group had launched drones and missiles targeting the oil refinery in Musaffah, along with Abu Dhabi and Dubai airport. 

Sarea did not offer evidence to back up the claims. 

Police had earlier said said an investigation found debris that could possibly be drones at the sites in Musaffah and Abu Dhabi airport, but they did not mention missiles, Reuters news agency reported. 

On Monday evening, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the attacks in a phone call with his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE's state news agency reported. 

The UAE's Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the "terrorist attack by the Houthi militia on areas and civilian facilities on Emirati soil," adding that it "would not go unpunished." 

What was the extent of the damage?

Abu Dhabi police said in a statement that the airport fire was "minor," adding that it broke out at an extension of the airport that is still under construction.

The statement said that there was a separate blast on three petroleum transport tankers near a storage facility for Abu Dhabi's state-owned oil company.

"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 statement said. 

Pro-goverment fighter in Yemen aiming his weapon
The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting in support of the Yemen's internationally recognized government, which was ousted from Sanaa in 2014Image: AFPTV/AFP/Getty Images

A proxy war 

For years, Iran-aligned Houthi rebels have been fighting a war against a Saudi-led coalition.

The Houthis have previously used drones to launch crude and imprecise attacks aimed at Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The UAE is a key member of the Saudi-led coalition which has been fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2015, in support of the country's internationally recognized government.

The Houthi movement controls most of northern Yemen, including the capital Sanaa.

Earlier this month, Houthis seized an Emirati-flagged vessel that they claimed was a "military cargo ship." The Saudi-led coalition claimed that the ship was carrying medical supplies.

sdi/rs,wmr (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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