Satellite photos show aftermath of Abu Dhabi oil site attack


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday appear to show the aftermath of a deadly attack on an oil facility in the United Arab Emirates capital claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The attack brought Yemen’s long war into Emirati territory on Monday. That conflict raged overnight with Saudi-led airstrikes pounding Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, killing and injuring civilians.

Planet Labs PBC images analyzed by the AP show smoke rising above an Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. fuel depot in Abu Dhabi’s Mussafah district after the attack. Another image taken shortly after appears to show scorch marks and white fire-fighting foam deployed on the grounds of the depot.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., known by the acronym ADNOC, is the state-owned energy company that supplies much of the wealth of the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven emirates on the Arabian Peninsula which is also home to Dubai.

ADNOC did not respond to questions from the AP about the site and damage estimates from the attack. The company had said the attack happened around 10 a.m. Monday.

“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 man as three tankers at the site exploded, police said. Six people were also injured at the facility, which sits near Al-Dhafra Airbase, a massive Emirati facility that also houses US and French forces.

Another fire also hit Abu Dhabi International Airport, although damage from that attack was not seen. Police described the assault as a suspected drone attack. The Houthis described the use of cruise and ballistic missiles in the attack, without providing evidence.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen announced it had launched a bombing campaign targeting Houthi sites in the capital Sanaa.

Nightly videos released by the Houthis showed damage, with the rebels saying the strike killed at least 12 people. An international aid worker in Sanaa said there were civilians among the dead. He said the airstrike hit the home 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.

For hours on Monday, Emirati officials failed to acknowledge Houthi claims over the Abu Dhabi attack, even as other countries condemned the assault. Senior Emirati diplomat Anwar Gargash broke his silence on Twitter, saying the Emirati authorities were handling “the rebel group’s brutal attack on some civilian facilities” with “transparency and accountability”.

The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had traveled to the Emirates for a state visit, said he had spoken with the powerful Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, immediately after the attack.

The statement quoted Sheikh Mohammed as saying the attack was “planned”. The two men were scheduled to meet during Moon’s visit, but the event was canceled before the attack for “an unforeseen and urgent matter of status”, according to Moon’s office.

The UAE Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Moon’s statement.

Although the UAE has largely withdrawn its own forces from Yemen, it is still actively engaged in the conflict and supporting Yemeni militias fighting the Houthis.

The incident comes as the Houthis come under pressure and suffer heavy casualties. Yemeni government forces, allied and supported by the United Arab Emirates, pushed back the rebels in key provinces. Aided by the Emirati-backed Giants Brigades, government forces retook Shabwa province earlier this month, dealing a blow to Houthi efforts to complete their control of the entire northern half of Yemen.

While Emirati troops have been killed in the conflict, now in its eighth year, the war has not directly affected daily life in the United Arab Emirates, a country with a large foreign workforce.


Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre in Dubai, Samy Magdy in Cairo and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.

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