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Suspected drone strike in Abu Dhabi kills 3 and injures 6

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) A possible drone strike may have caused an explosion that hit three oil tankers in Abu Dhabi and another fire at an extension of Abu Dhabi International Airport on Monday that killed three people and injured six, police said.

Abu Dhabi police identified the dead as two Indian nationals and a Pakistani. He did not identify the injured, who according to the police suffered minor or moderate injuries.

Police said an investigation is underway.

While Abu Dhabi police did not immediately provide any suspects for the possible attack, Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for an attack targeting the United Arab Emirates, without giving details. Iran-backed Houthis have claimed several attacks that Emirati officials later denied had taken place.

The incident comes as the years-long war in Yemen continues and while an Emirates-flagged ship was recently found captured by the Houthis. This is because Abu Dhabi has largely withdrawn its national forces from the conflict by dismembering the poorest nation in the Arab world while still supporting local militias there.

Abu Dhabi police said preliminary investigations revealed the discovery of small flying objects, possibly belonging to drones, that crashed in both areas and may have caused the explosion and fire. They said there was no significant damage from the incidents, without giving further details.

Police described the airport fire as small and said it occurred at an extension of the international airport that is still under construction. For years, the airport where Etihad Airways is located has built the new Midfield terminal, but it was not clear if the fire occurred there.

The airport and Etihad did not immediately respond to requests for comment, however there were a number of flights delayed Monday morning.

Police said the next blast hit three oil tankers near a warehouse for the Abu Dhabi national oil company in the Musaffah area. The neighborhood, 22 kilometers (13 miles) from Abu Dhabi city center, also has a network of oil pipelines and 36 storage tanks, from which trucks transport fuel nationwide.

On Monday, Houthi military spokesman Yahia Sarei said the group launched a deep attack in the UAE. He gave no further details, saying a statement would be issued shortly.

The location of the ADNOC storage facility where the tanks caught fire is approximately 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) northeast of Saada, the Houthi stronghold in Yemen.

The UAE has been at war in Yemen since early 2015 and was a key member of the Saudi-led coalition that launched attacks against Iranian-backed Houthis after the group invaded the Yemeni capital and toppled the backed government. internationally by power.

Although the UAE has reduced the number of troops it has on the ground, they continue to actively engage in warfare and support key militias fighting the Houthis. It also cooperates closely with the United States in counter-terrorism operations in Yemen.

The Houthis have come under pressure in recent weeks and are suffering heavy losses as Yemeni forces, allied and backed by the United Arab Emirates, have pushed the rebel group into the country’s main southern and central provinces.

Yemeni government-linked forces, aided by the UAE-backed Giant Brigades and aided by Saudi airstrikes, retook the entire southern Shabwa province from Houthis earlier this month and made progress in the nearby Marib province. .

The incident comes after South Korean President Moon Jae-‘s visited the United Arab Emirates. During the presidents’ meeting with Emirati Prime Minister and Dubai Governor Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on Sunday, the two countries reportedly reached a preliminary agreement worth about $ 3.5 billion to sell South Korean surface-to-air missiles. medium of action in the UAE.

The Houthis have carried out previous attacks on Abu Dhabi airport, as well as on the Emirates nuclear power plant in Barakah – claims that Emirati officials have denied in the past.

The Hutus have used bomb-laden drones to launch crude and inaccurate attacks targeting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates during the course of the war. The group has also fired missiles at Saudi airports, oil facilities and pipelines, and used stranded boats for attacks on major shipping lanes.

Although there have been civilian deaths in Saudi Arabia from some of these attacks, the vast majority of civilian deaths have been in Yemen. The war has killed 130,000 people in Yemen – civilians and fighters – and has exacerbated hunger and starvation across the impoverished country.

Torbjorn Soltvedt, an analyst at risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft, noted that while suspicion is likely to fall on the Houthis, Iraq-based militias have also threatened the Emirates with attacks.

Today’s attack comes just days after Iranian-backed groups threatened to attack Abu Dhabi in response to the Emirates’s alleged interference in Iraqi politics, he said.

The attack is another reminder of the very complex missile and drone threat facing the UAE and other major oil-producing regions, he added. If Gulf Cooperation Council states cannot find a solution to disperse regional tensions, or to curb hostility from regional state and non-state actors, they will remain vulnerable to attacks.

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Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre and Jon Gambrell in Dubai and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.

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