Ship targeted off Yemen

Ship targeted off Yemen

A Liberian-flagged container ship has been targeted off the coast of Yemen, British maritime security firm Ambrey said on Monday, adding that the vessel was listed as being operated by an Israeli company.

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Yemeni Houthi rebels later said they had attacked the “Israeli ship MSC SKY in the Arabian Sea with an appropriate number of naval missiles.”

Ambrey did not disclose the name of the container ship that “was struck and issued a distress signal” while it was about 88 nautical miles (163 km) southeast of Aden.

The British maritime safety authority UKMTO also reported the attack and reported two explosions. The first occurred near the ship and the second caused damage without resulting in injuries, she said, indicating that a fire broke out on board which was extinguished by the crew.

The ship left Singapore and headed for Djibouti. According to Ambrey, it was “listed as an operation of the Israeli company ZIM Integrated Shipping Services.” But this “could be an outdated connection as the ship is not listed in other public sources,” the British company added.

Since November, Iran-aligned Houthi rebels have attacked merchant ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden that they say are linked to Israel, claiming they are acting in “solidarity” with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip war breaks out between the Israeli army and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

Their attacks have forced many shipowners to suspend transit on this crucial shipping route, which carries 12% of global trade.

The United States, Israel's backer, set up a multinational maritime defense force in the Red Sea in December and, partly with help from the United Kingdom, carried out attacks in Yemen against the Houthis. The latter have now expanded their attacks to include ships with connections to the United States or the United Kingdom.

The operation against the MSC SKY came hours after “ballistic missile and drone attacks on a number of American warships in the Red Sea,” Houthi military spokesman Yehaa Saree said.

“Operations will be intensified and continued in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and Bab el-Mandeb until the aggression ceases and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted,” he added.

According to the US Military Middle East Command (Centcom), a cargo ship damaged by two rebel-fired missiles on February 19 sank in the Gulf of Aden on Saturday with around 21,000 tons of ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer on board.