The United Arab Emirates’ interior minister said Thursday that police have arrested a female suspect in the stabbing death of an American schoolteacher in the country’s capital and revealed that the attacker also planted a bomb outside the home of another American.
Word of the gruesome killing, which left a trail of blood in a public restroom at an Abu Dhabi mall, has rattled the Emirates, a Western-allied, seven-state Gulf federation that includes the glitzy commercial hub of Dubai.
Violent crime and terrorist attacks are rare in the oil-rich country, which is home to a large foreign-born population that far outnumbers Emirati citizens.
Interior Minister Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also deputy prime minister, said the attacker targeted her victims based on their nationality alone in an attempt to create chaos and terrorize the country. He called the stabbing a crime that is “alien to our secure country.”
“The victim of this brutal crime was a schoolteacher who was committed to building strong future generations,” he told reporters.
After carrying out the murder at the Boutik Mall on the capital’s upscale Reem Island, the attacker left a makeshift bomb at the house of a 46-year-old Egyptian-American doctor in the prominent waterfront Corniche area.
One of the doctor’s sons discovered the device as he headed out for sunset prayers at a local mosque, and police were able to dismantle it before it could cause any damage, the interior minister said.
The bomb, which authorities described as primitive, included small gas cylinders, a lighter, glue and nails.
Police say the teacher was stabbed to death by a butcher’s knife-wielding attacker wearing the full black veil commonly worn by women throughout the Gulf Arab region.
Emirati authorities identified her by the initials I.R. and said she was 47 years old.
Footprints Recruiting, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based company that found a job for the victim, gave her name as Ibolya Ryan.
“We await the results of the ongoing police investigation before making conclusions about why this senseless tragedy occurred,” the company said. “We are confident that the UAE in general and Abu Dhabi in particular remains a safe environment in which to live and work.”
David Duerden, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, said the mission is working with all appropriate authorities to gather further information and is in contact with the victim’s family to provide consular assistance. It has not released the victim’s name, citing privacy considerations.
Police earlier said the victim had 11-year-old twins and that they were being kept in protective custody until their father, who is the victim’s ex-husband, arrived in the country.
The Emirates, an increasingly popular tourist destination that is home to the world’s tallest skyscraper and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix auto race, is a safe haven in the turbulent Middle East.
It is one of the more prominent Arab members of the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. American and other Western allies rely on air bases in the country, and Emirati fighter pilots have carried out multiple missions as part of the bombing campaign.