Vessel reports missile attack off Yemen’s coast

CAIRO (AFP): A vessel reported coming under a missile attack off Yemen’s southern coast on Monday while transiting the strategic Bab al-Mandeb strait, security agencies said.

The incident occurred before 0400 local time (0100 GMT) in an area where Huthi rebels have repeatedly targeted Red Sea shipping in recent months, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency said in a report.

“The crew are reported safe and the vessel is proceeding to next port of call,” UKMTO said.

Another security firm, Ambrey, said the Marshall Islands-flagged, Greece-owned bulk carrier “was targeted by missiles in two separate incidents” within 20 minutes and “was reportedly hit and sustained physical damage on the starboard side”.

The vessel had a private armed security team on board, Ambrey said.

The Huthis, part of the anti-Western, anti-Israel “axis of resistance” of Iran-backed groups, have been targeting Red Sea shipping vessels for months, triggering US and British reprisal attacks.

The rebels say the attacks are intended to show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, which has been ravaged by the Israel-Hamas war since October.

The group owner and operator of the bulk carrier targeted on Monday regularly trades cargo with Iran, “so this was assessed to be the likely destination”, Ambrey said.

“The group owner of the bulker was also listed on the US stock market index NASDAQ, which was identified as the likely reason for the attack,” it said.

The Huthis’ attacks have prompted some shipping companies to detour around southern Africa to avoid the Red Sea, a vital route that normally carries about 12 percent of global maritime trade.