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UAE says it intercepted 2 ballistic missiles shot at Abu Dhabi

The United Arab Emirates said shortly after the missiles were launched fighter jets took out the laucher

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UAE says it intercepted 2 ballistic missiles shot at Abu Dhabi
The United Arab Emirates' ministry of defense said fighter jets took out the launcher responsible for firing to missiles toward the capital Abu Dhabi. Image courtesy the Ministry of Defense of the United Arab Emirates

Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The United Arab Emirates early Monday said it intercepted and destroyed two ballistic missiles launched toward Abu Dhabi by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, making it the second time in a week that the militant group has targeted the capital city.

The violence suggests an escalation in fighting that includes Houthi rebels conducting a rare drone strike on Abu Dhabi on Jan. 17 that exploded three oil tankers and killed three people.

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The Defense Ministry announced early Monday via social media that its air forces had downed the two missiles.

The attack, it said, did not result in casualties "as the remnants of the intercepted and destroyed ballistic missiles fell in separate areas around the Emirate of Abu Dhabi."

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In a statement carried by WAM, the official news agency of the UAE, the ministry said it was at "full readiness to deal with any threats" and that it will "take all necessary measures to protect the UAE from any attacks."

The Ministry of Defense not long after said fighter jets were deployed and destroyed the responsible missile launcher in the northwestern province of Al Jawf.

Following the rocket launches, the U.S. State Department warned Americans in a security alert.

"There have been reports of a possible missile attack and accompanying defense activity over Abu Dhabi early this morning," it said in a statement. "The embassy reminds all U.S. citizens in the United Arab Emirates to maintain a high level of security awareness."

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the launches, but it was launched a week after the Houthi militia in Yemen took credit for the deadly drone strike early last week.

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The UAE fast retaliated with separate airstrikes targeting Houthi strongholds and camps in the Yemen capital Sana'a.

On Friday, airstrikes in Yemen that killed at least 82 people and injured 266 others were blamed on the Saudi-led coalition that has fought the Houthi forces since intervening in Yemen's civil war in 2015. The coalition has denied responsibility for the airstrikes, calling the accusations "baseless and unfounded."

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The United Nations has labeled Yemen the "world's worst humanitarian crisis" with some 24 million people in urgent need for humanitarian assistance in the wake of war erupting in the Middle Eastern country in March 2015 when the internationally recognized and Saudi-backed Yemen government launched an attack against the Iran-backed Houthi relabels.

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