Yemen’s Houthi Militia Claims Rare Military Strike on U.A.E.

Three people were killed in Abu Dhabi on Monday when several fuel tankers exploded in a possible drone strike, according to state-run media and local authorities in the United Arab Emirates.

The Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, which has fought a yearslong war with a Saudi-led military coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates, claimed that it had launched a military operation against the U.A.E., but provided few additional details. The Houthis in Yemen frequently target neighboring Saudi Arabia, but attacks on the U.A.E. have been rarer.

A minor fire also broke out in the Abu Dhabi International Airport, raising the possibility that it too was the target of a drone strike. The police in Abu Dhabi said there were indications that “small flying objects, possibly belonging to drones” started the fires, one of which led to the explosion of the three petroleum gas tankers in an industrial district in southwestern Abu Dhabi near storage tanks for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

The attack came amid a recent escalation of tensions between the Houthis and the Saudi-led forces in Yemen, which have been at war since 2015. Days earlier, U.A.E.-backed Yemeni forces launched an offensive against Houthi fighters in the city of Marib, and Emirati-affiliated forces recently took province of Shabwa from Houthi control.

Houthi fighters have also refused to release the cargo and crew of a U.A.E.-flagged ship they seized earlier this month that they claimed was carrying weaponry, despite calls to do so from the United Nations. The Saudi-led coalition has said that the ship was instead carrying medical supplies from a field hospital, calling the seizure an act of “piracy.”

The Emirati authorities did not immediately blame any group for the attacks.

One Pakistani national and two Indian nationals died in the tanker explosions, Abu Dhabi police said, and six people were injured.

Shuaib Almosawa, Nada Rashwan and Vivian Yee contributed reporting.

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