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 Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Monday’s attack brought Yemen’s long-running war to Emirati territory even as fighting raged overnight with Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen’s capital Sanaa killing and injuring civilians. Meanwhile, fears of further disruptions to global energy supplies following the attack pushed benchmark Brent crude to its highest price in years.

Planet Labs PBC images analyzed by the AP show smoke rising above an Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. fuel depot in the 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 and 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. Three tank trucks at the site exploded, police said. Six people were also injured at the facility, which sits near Al-Dhafra Air Base, a massive Emirati facility that also houses US and French forces.

Another fire hit Abu Dhabi International Airport, although damage from that attack was not seen. Journalists were unable to see the sites attacked and state media did not publish photographs of the areas.

Police described the assault as a suspected drone attack. Yemen’s Houthis claimed to have used cruise and ballistic missiles in the attack, without providing evidence.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said on Tuesday it had launched a bombing campaign targeting Houthi sites in Sanaa and struck a drone operating base in the Nabi Shuaib mountain near the Yemeni capital.

Nightly videos released by the Houthis showed damage, with the rebels saying the airstrikes killed at least 14 people. Sanaa resident Hassan al-Ahdal said an airstrike hit Brig’s house. General Abdalla Kassem al-Junaid, who heads the Air Academy. He said at least three families lived in the house. Another annex house with a family of four was damaged.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said five civilians were among the dead. The Saudi-led coalition has come under international criticism for airstrikes hitting civilian targets during the war.

Later on Tuesday, the UAE ambassador to the United Nations called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council “to deal with the Houthi terrorist attacks in Abu Dhabi”. Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh strongly condemned “the Houthis’ targeting of civilians and civilian objects in flagrant violation of international law”.

“This illegal and alarming escalation is a further step in the Houthis’ efforts to spread terrorism and chaos in our region,” she said. “This is yet another attempt by the Houthis, using the capabilities they have illegally acquired in defiance of UN sanctions, to threaten peace and security.

Norway, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month, said it was consulting other council members at a meeting.

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 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 respond to a request for comment on Moon’s statement. However, the state-linked newspaper The National, in an editorial on Tuesday, called the Houthis “an extremist organization dependent on terrorism and, above all, fear”. He said “attempts by the Houthis to sow fear in Abu Dhabi failed as the explosions were quickly brought under control”.

Concerns about future attacks reaching the United Arab Emirates, a major oil producer and member of OPEC, helped push Brent crude oil prices to their highest level in seven years. On Tuesday, a barrel of Brent was trading at over $87.50 a barrel, a price not seen since October 2014.

“The damage to UAE oil facilities in Abu Dhabi is not significant in itself, but it raises the question of even more supply disruptions in the region in 2022,” said Louise Dickson, analyst at Rystad Energy.

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 battlefield 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, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.


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