Two ballistic missiles fired by Yemeni rebels were intercepted and destroyed over the UAE capital Abu Dhabi on Monday, officials said, the latest attack in a sharp escalation in the seven-year long war.
The attack on the UAE, a week after the Iran-backed rebels launched a deadly assault on Abu Dhabi, came as two people were wounded by a missile fired into southern Saudi Arabia, where another projectile was also destroyed.
Nobody was hurt in the attack on the United Arab Emirates, where witnesses saw bright flashes arcing across the night sky in the early hours, before scattering debris over Abu Dhabi.
“The attack did not result in any casualties, while the remnants of the intercepted and destroyed ballistic missiles fell in separate areas around the emirate of Abu Dhabi,” the UAE’s defence ministry said.
The UAE is a member of the Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s government in its fight against the Huthis, in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions.
The Huthis appeared to claim the latest attacks when spokesperson Mohammed Abulsalam said he would reveal details of a “military operation” in UAE and Saudi Arabia.
“The Yemeni armed forces will unveil in the next few hours details of a military operation deep in UAE and Saudi Arabia,” Abulsalam tweeted.
The UAE defence ministry said it was “ready to deal with any threats” and was “taking all necessary measures to protect the state from all attacks”, the official WAM news agency said.
– Deadly prison attack –
In the strikes on Saudi Arabia, two people were injured in Jazan and another missile was intercepted over Dhahram Al Janub.
Coalition forces destroyed a missile launchpad in northern Yemen, saying it had been used in the latest volley of attacks.
“This launchpad was used this morning in an operation to launch ballistic missiles,” the coalition was quoted as saying by official Saudi media.
The grinding conflict entered a new phase with last week’s attack on Abu Dhabi, which hit oil facilities and the airport, killing three people.
The attack — the first deadly assault on UAE soil acknowledged by the Emiratis and claimed by the Huthis — was a shock for the UAE, usually an oasis of calm in the volatile region.
It triggered a series of air strikes on Yemen.
Fourteen people died in an air raid on the capital, Sanaa, and at least three children were killed in an attack on the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, that knocked out the struggling country’s internet.
The coalition denied carrying out a strike on a prison in the northern city of Saada, the rebels’ home base, that killed at least 70 people and wounded more than 100, overwhelming hospitals.
But aid agencies dismissed the coalition’s denial, saying that witnesses in Saada heard fighter jets overhead followed by three loud explosions.
“This is the latest in a long line of unjustifiable air strikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition on places like schools, hospitals, markets, wedding parties and prisons,” said Ahmed Mahat, head of mission for Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when the Huthis seized Sanaa, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene to prop up the government the following year.
The conflict has left millions on the brink of famine, according to the UN which calls it the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe.