Two Indians and a Pakistani have died as three petrol tanks exploded near the storage facility of an oil giant and a fire broke out in a construction area at Abu Dhabi airport.

Police say
Police say "small flying objects," possibly belonging to drones, have been found, suggesting a deliberate attack. (AFP)

At least three people have been killed and six wounded in a suspected drone attack that set off a blast and a fire in Abu Dhabi, as Yemen's Houthi rebels announced military operations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Two Indians and a Pakistani died as three petrol tanks exploded near the storage facility of oil giant ADNOC on Monday, while a fire ignited in a construction area at Abu Dhabi airport. 

"Preliminary investigations indicate the detection of small flying objects, possibly belonging to drones, that fell in the two areas and may have caused the explosion and fire," police said in a statement, adding that the incidents were under investigation.

The UAE's presidential advisor Anwar Gargash condemned the "heinous" attack it blamed on Yemen's Houthi rebels.

"UAE authorities ... are dealing ... with the heinous Houthi attack on some civilian installations in Abu Dhabi," tweeted Gargash, referring to the Yemeni rebels.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said it had destroyed eight drones launched towards the kingdom, Saudi state media reported.

READ MORE: Yemen rebels capture UAE ship carrying 'military supplies'

'Military operation'

Drone attacks are a hallmark of the Houthis' assaults on Saudi Arabia, the UAE ally which is leading the coalition fighting for Yemen's government in a grinding civil war.

A military spokesperson of Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels, Yahya Saree, tweeted that the rebels' armed forces had said they would "announce an important military operation in the UAE in the coming hours".

Police described the airport fire as “minor” and said it took place at an extension of the international airport that is still under construction. However, there were a series of flights delayed Monday morning.

Police said the other blast struck three petroleum transport tankers near a storage facility for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co in the Musaffah area, 22 km (13 miles) from the centre of Abu Dhabi city. 

The location is approximately 1,800 km (1,100 miles) northeast of Saada, the Houthis’ stronghold in Yemen.

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'Dangerous escalation'

The development comes two weeks after the rebels seized a UAE-flagged ship, the Rwabee, off the Yemen coast, 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 later rejected a UN Security Council demand for the ship's immediate release, saying it was "not carrying ... toys for children but weapons for extremists".

The UAE has been at war in Yemen since early 2015.

It was a key member of the Saudi-led coalition that launched attacks against the Iranian-backed Houthis after the group overran the capital of Yemen and ousted the internationally backed government from power.

Yemen’s government-aligned forces, aided by the UAE-backed Giants Brigades and with help from Saudi air strikes, reclaimed the entire southern province of Shabwa from the Houthis earlier this month and made advances in nearby Marib province.

READ MORE: Yemeni forces claim control over Shabwa province from Houthis

Source: TRTWorld and agencies