Planet Labs PBC / AP
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Satellite images taken by The Associated Press on Tuesday appear to show the consequences of a fatal attack on an oil plant in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, as Yemen’s Houthi rebels claim.
The images of Planet Labs PBC analyzed by the AP show smoke rising over an Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. fuel depot in the Mussafah district of Abu Dhabi on Monday. Another image taken shortly after appears to show burn marks and white fire-retardant foam placed on the ground of the depot.
Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., known under the acronym ADNOC, is the state-owned energy company that supplies much of the wealth of the UAE, an association of seven sheikhs on the Arabian Peninsula, also home to Dubai.
ADNOC did not immediately respond to questions from the AP asking about the site and damage estimates from the attack. The company said the attack happened around 10 a.m. Monday morning.
“We are working closely with the relevant authorities to determine the exact cause and a detailed investigation has begun,” ADNOC said in an earlier statement.
The attack killed two Indian nationals and a Pakistani when three tankers at the scene exploded, police said. Six people were also injured at the facility, which is near Al-Dhafra Air Base, a massive Emirati installation, also home to US and French forces.
Another fire also hit Abu Dhabi International Airport, although the damage in the attack could not be seen. Police described the attack as a suspected drone attack.
Senior Emirati diplomat Anwar Gargash accused the Houthis of the attack and said on Twitter that emirate authorities were handling the rebel group’s “vicious attack on some civilian facilities” in the United Arab Emirates capital with “transparency and accountability”.
“Terrorist militias’ manipulation of the region’s security is too weak to affect the stability and security we live in,” he said.
Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents claimed to be behind an attack targeting “sensitive Emirati facilities”. At a news conference late Monday, military spokeswoman Yehia Sarea said, without providing evidence, that the Houthis were targeting the airports in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as an oil refinery and elsewhere in the UAE with ballistic missiles and explosive-laden drones. Dubai Airport was operating normally on Monday.
At dawn on Tuesday, the Saudi-led coalition fighters in Yemen announced that they had launched a bombing campaign targeting Houthi areas in the capital Sanaa.
Night videos released by the Houthis showed damage in which the rebels said the attack killed at least 12 people. An international relief worker in Sanaa said there were civilians among the dead. He said the airstrike hit a house of a senior military official who was killed along with his wife and son. The worker spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Although the UAE has largely withdrawn its own forces from Yemen, they are still actively involved in the conflict and support Yemeni militias fighting the Houthis.
The incident comes as the Houthis are exposed to pressure and suffer heavy losses. Yemeni government forces, allied and backed by the United Arab Emirates, have pushed the rebels back into key provinces. With the help of the Emirati-backed Giants Brigades, government forces recaptured Shabwa province earlier this month as a blow to Houthi’s efforts to complete their control of the entire northern half of Yemen.
Planet Labs PBC / AP
Condemnations of the attack on the UAE poured in from all over the world.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States would work with the United Arab Emirates and international partners to hold the Houthis accountable, saying “we stand by our Emirati partners against all threats to their territory.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack as “prohibited by international law” and called on all sides “to prevent any escalation amid rising tensions in the region,” said spokesman Stephane Dujarric. UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg was on his way to Riyadh to meet with Saudi and Yemeni officials on “the recent military rise” in Yemen, Dujarric added.
Saudi Arabia and a host of other Arab states described the attack as “a cowardly terrorist attack.” The kingdom, as well as the United States, UN experts and others have accused Iran of supplying weapons to the Houthis.
The United Arab Emirates was a key member of the Saudi-led coalition that has been waging war against the Houthis since 2015 in an attempt to restore the internationally backed government, which was ousted by the rebels the year before.
While Emirati troops have been killed during the conflict, now in its eight years, the war has not directly affected the daily lives of the wider UAE, a country with a large foreign workforce.
Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre in Dubai and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.
Follow Jon Gambrell on twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.