DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates intercepted two ballistic missiles targeting Abu Dhabi early Monday, its state-run news agency reported, the latest attack to target the Emirati capital.
A spokesman for Yemen's Houthi rebel militia later said they had launched attacks targeting both the Emirates and Saudi Arabia, without elaborating.
The attack on Abu Dhabi, after another last week killed three people and wounded six, further escalates tensions across the Persian Gulf as Yemen's yearslong civil war grinds on.
That war, pitting Iranian-backed Houthi rebels against a Saudi-led coalition, has become a regional conflict as negotiations continue over Tehran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers. The collapse of the accord has sparked years of attacks across the region.
The state-run WAM news agency said that missile fragments fell harmlessly over Abu Dhabi.
The Emirates “is ready and ready to deal with any threats and that it takes all necessary measures to protect the state from all attacks,” WAM quoted the UAE Defense Ministry as saying.
Videos posted to social media show the sky over the capital light up before dawn Monday, with points of light looking like interceptor missiles in the sky. The videos corresponded to known features of Abu Dhabi.
The missile fire disrupted traffic into Abu Dhabi International Airport, home to the long-haul carrier Etihad, for about an hour after the attack.
A Houthi military spokesman did not immediately respond to questions from the AP on Monday’s attack. Mohammed Abdul-Salam, a Houthi spokesman, later tweeted: “The Yemeni armed forces will reveal, in the coming hours, details of a military operation in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.”
The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi later issued a security alert to Americans living in the UAE, warning citizens to “maintain a high level of security awareness.” The alert included instructions on how to cope with missile attacks, something unheard-of previously in the UAE, a tourist destination home to skyscraper-studded Dubai and its long-haul carrier Emirates.
The attack came a week after Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed an attack on the Emirati capital targeting the airport and an Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. fuel depot in the Mussafah neighborhood.
New, high-resolution satellite photographs obtained by The Associated Press from Planet Labs PBC showed repair work still ongoing at the fuel depot Saturday. Emirati officials have not released images of the attacked sites, nor allowed journalists to see them.
In recent days, a Saudi-led coalition that the UAE backs unleashed punishing airstrikes targeting Yemen, knocking the Arab world's poorest country off the internet and killed over 80 people at a detention center.
The Houthis had threaten to take revenge against the Emirates and Saudi Arabia over those attacks. On Sunday, the Saudi-led coalition said a Houthi-launched ballistic missile landed in an industrial area in Jizan, Saudi Arabia, slightly wounding a foreigner.
The hard-line Iranian daily newspaper Kayhan, whose editor-in-chief was appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, just Sunday published a front-page article quoting Houthi officials that the UAE would be attacked again with a headline: “Evacuate Emirati commercial towers.”
The newspaper in 2017 had faced a two-day publication ban after it ran a headline saying Dubai was the “next target” for the Houthis.
Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre in Dubai, Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.