Ship attacked off Yemen

(Sanaa) A ship reported Monday that it came under a missile attack off Yemen while passing through the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait, security agencies said.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea in recent months, claimed to have attacked a US ship with “naval missiles”, although it was not immediately clear whether it was acts of the same incident.

The British Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency said in an incident report that the attack occurred before 4 a.m. (8 p.m. Eastern Time).

“The crew is safe and the ship is heading to the next port of call,” the UKMTO said.

Another security company, Ambrey, said the ship was a Greek bulk carrier flying the flag of the Marshall Islands and “was targeted by missiles in two separate incidents” within 20 minutes.

It “reportedly was hit and sustained damage on the starboard side,” Ambrey said, adding that a private armed security team was on board.

The group’s owner and operator of the bulk carrier targeted Monday regularly trades goods with Iran, “so that was considered the likely destination,” Ambrey said.

“The group owning the bulk carrier was also listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which was identified as the probable reason for the attack,” added the same source.

The Houthis are part, along with other Islamist groups supported by Iran, of what Tehran calls the anti-Western and anti-Israeli “axis of resistance”. The Houthis have targeted transport ships in the Red Sea since November, triggering US and British retaliatory attacks.

The rebels claim to be carrying out these attacks in solidarity with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, ravaged by the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas since October.

“The naval forces of the Yemeni armed forces targeted the American ship Star Iris in the Red Sea with a number of naval missiles (…), and the strikes were precise and direct,” said Houthi spokesperson Yahya Saree .

The Houthis “will not hesitate to carry out more operations in retaliation for Zionist crimes against our brothers in the Gaza Strip, as well as in response to the ongoing US-British aggression against our beloved country.”

The Houthis have been at war since 2014 against the government of Yemen, a poor country on the Arabian Peninsula, and have taken control of vast territories including the capital Sanaa.

The Houthi attacks have forced some shipping companies to bypass southern Africa to avoid the Red Sea, a vital route that normally carries about 12% of global maritime trade.

Israel’s first ally, Washington, which has designated the Houthis as a “terrorist” entity, set up a multinational coalition in December to “protect” maritime traffic in the Red Sea.

This coalition having so far not allowed a cessation of attacks, American forces, sometimes with the British ally, have carried out several strikes against the Houthis in Yemen since mid-January.


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