DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) – Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press (AP) yesterday appear to show the aftermath of a fatal attack on an oil facility in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The attack brought the long-running Yemen war into Emirati territory on Monday. That conflict raged on overnight with airstrikes pounding Yemen’s capital Sanaa, killing and wounding civilians.
Meanwhile, fears over new disruptions to global energy supplies after the Abu Dhabi attack pushed benchmark Brent crude to its highest price in years.
The images by Planet Labs PBC analysed by the AP show smoke rising over an Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) fuel depot in the Mussafah neighbourhood of Abu Dhabi after the attack. Another image taken shortly after appears to show scorch marks and white fire-suppressing foam deployed on the grounds of the depot.
The ADNOC is the state-owned energy firm that provides much of the wealth of the UAE.
The company said the attack happened around 10am on Monday.
“We are working closely with the relevant authorities to determine the exact cause and a detailed investigation has commenced,” ADNOC said in an earlier statement.
The attack killed two Indian nationals and one Pakistani as three tankers at the site exploded, police said. Six people were also wounded at the facility, which is near Al-Dhafra Air Base, a massive Emirati installation also home to American and French forces.
Another fire also struck Abu Dhabi International Airport, though damage in that attack could not be seen. Journalists have not been able to view the sites attacked and state-run media have not published photographs of the areas.
Police described the assault as a suspected drone attack. The Houthis have described using cruise and ballistic missiles in the attack, without offering evidence.
Meanwhile yesterday, the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen announced it started a bombing campaign targetting Houthi sites in the capital of Sanaa. It said it also struck a drone operating base in Nabi Shuaib Mountain near Sanaa.
Overnight videos released by the Houthis showed damage, with the rebels saying the strike killed at least 12 people. Sanaa resident Hassan al-Ahdal said one airstrike hit the house of Brigadier General Abdalla Kassem al-Junaid, who heads the Air Academy.
He said at least three families were living in the house. Another adjunct house with a four-member family was damaged.
For hours on Monday, Emirati officials did not acknowledge the Houthi claims over the Abu Dhabi attack, even as other countries condemned the assault. Senior Emirati diplomat Anwar Gargash broke the silence on Twitter, saying that Emirati authorities were handling the rebel group’s “vicious attack on some civilian facilities” with “transparency and responsibility”.
Fears over future attacks reaching the UAE, a major oil producer and OPEC member, helped push Brent crude oil prices to their highest level in seven years. Yesterday, a barrel of Brent crude traded at over USD87.50 a barrel, a price unseen since October 2014.