Abu Dhabi: The United Arab Emirates on Monday vowed retaliation on Yemen's Houthi rebels after the group triggered a fuel tank blast that killed three people in Abu Dhabi.
In a statement issued, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan who described the attack as a "heinous criminal escalation" pledged that the sinful targetting will not go unpunished.
"We condemn the Huthi terrorist militia's targeting of civilian areas and facilities on UAE soil today... this sinful targeting will not go unpunished," UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said.
Two Indians and a Pakistani working for oil giant ADNOC died as three petrol tanks exploded near a storage facility, while a fire also ignited in a construction area at Abu Dhabi airport in the heart of the UAE.
As per reports, "small flying objects, possibly belonging to drones" were found at both sites.
Drone attacks have been a hallmark of the rebels' assaults on neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Huthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said that they had "carried out... a successful military operation" against "important and sensitive Emirati sites and installations" using both ballistic missiles and drones.
He further warned that the group "will not hesitate to expand" strikes and said people should "stay away from vital sites and facilities for their own safety".
The UAE is an active member of the Saudi-led coalition which has been fighting a large-scale war against the Houthi rebel militia in various areas of Yemen.
But this is the first deadly assault on its own soil acknowledged by the UAE and claimed by the rebels, who said they had fired ballistic missiles and deployed armed drones.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation all condemned the "terrorist" attack. Eight Huthi drones targeting Saudi Arabia were also intercepted, the coalition said.
The incident comes two weeks after the rebels hijacked the UAE-flagged Rwabee, and released footage purporting to show military equipment on board.
The UAE said the Rwabee, whose 11 crew are now hostages, was a "civilian cargo vessel" and called the hijacking a "dangerous escalation" in the busy Red Sea shipping route.
The rebels have previously threatened to target Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the gleaming crown jewels of the UAE which last year opened its first nuclear power plant.