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Houthi missiles target Saudi Arabia and UAE as escalation grows

  • January 24, 2022

The United Arab Emirates says it intercepted and destroyed two ballistic missiles over Abu Dhabi that were fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the latest escalation in Yemen’s longrunning war.

The attack, a week after another Houthi drone-and-missile attack on Abu Dhabi killed three civilians, came as two people were wounded by a missile fired into southern Saudi Arabia, where another projectile was also destroyed.

“The remnants of the intercepted ballistic missiles fell in separate areas around Abu Dhabi,” the UAE defence ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run WAM news agency on Monday.

The UAE “is ready to deal with any threats and … takes all necessary measures to protect the state from all attacks”, the ministry was quoted as saying.

The UAE is a member of a Saudi-led military coalition backing Yemen’s government in its seven-year fight against the Houthis, in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions and has spawned what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, state media said late on Sunday that a Houthi ballistic missile had fallen in the kingdom’s south, injuring two residents – a Bangladeshi and a Sudanese – and damaging workshops and vehicles in an industrial area. Another missile was intercepted and destroyed over Dhahram al-Janub, according to a coalition statement.

A Houthi spokesman later said they had launched attacks targeting both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, without elaborating.

The Houthi-run Al Masirah television channel said the group would announce within hours the details of a “wide military operation” against Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The coalition had announced earlier that it was pursuing hostile activity from Yemen’s Houthi rebels using drones. The coalition said would take operational measures in accordance with international humanitarian law to protect civilians.

Videos posted to social media showed the sky over the UAE’s capital lit up before dawn on Monday, with points of light looking like interceptor missiles in the sky, the Associated Press news agency reported. 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.

The Saudi-led coalition has ramped up air attacks on what it describes as Houthi targets in Yemen.

At least 60 people were killed when a temporary detention centre in the northern province of Saada was bombed on Friday, and about 20 were killed in the Houthi-held capital of Sanaa in an attack on Tuesday.

The escalation has raised concerns of a worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen where the World Food Programme has warned that more than five million people are on the brink of famine, and 50,000 others were living in famine-like conditions.

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