Qatar’s former deputy prime minister accused the United Arab Emirates of plotting to invade Doha with an army of mercenaries, according to a report.

Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah levelled the charges on Wednesday in a report published by Spanish daily ABC.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a blockade and economic sanctions on Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting “extremism” and being too close to Iran, charges Doha has denied.

Attiyah said that the UAE hired a “Blackwater-linked” private security contractor to train thousands of mercenaries to invade Qatar with the aim of overthrowing the emir and replacing him with a ruler subservient to the Saudi-led bloc that is boycotting the gas-rich state, the NewArab website reported.