Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Yemen’s Houthis claim attack on Portuguese-flagged ship in Arabian Sea

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Yemen’s Houthi rebels said on Tuesday that they struck a Portuguese-flagged container ship in a drone attack in the Indian Ocean.

The MSC Orion was attacked on Friday, 600 kilometers (372.8 miles) off the coast of Yemen, suggesting the Houthis, or their sponsors in Iran, might have the ability to strike deep into the Arabian Sea. The ship was sailing between the ports of Sines, Portugal, and Salalah, Oman, according to LSEG and other ship-tracking data.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree claimed the attack early Tuesday but did not explain why it took days for the group to acknowledge the attack.

The ship “sustained only minor damage and all crew on board are safe,” said the Joint Maritime Information Center.

The crew found debris from a drone on board after the attack, the center said.

The MSC Orion has been associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime, controlled by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group.

The ship was likely targeted because of its “perceived Israeli affiliation,” the Joint Maritime Information Center said in a report.

The strike is part of the Houthis’ missile campaign against international shipping in solidarity with Palestinians against Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

The Yemen-based Houthi militant group fired three ballistic missiles at a Malta-flagged, Greece-owned container ship in the Red Sea on Monday, the U.S. military and maritime security agencies said.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) identified the ship as the MV Cyclades, saying there were no injuries on board.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations agency said an explosion hit close to the ship, causing some damage, but that the ship was safe and heading to its next port of call.

Private security firm Ambrey said the ship was traveling from Djibouti to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and that it was targeted “due to its listed operator’s ongoing trade with Israel.”

The Houthis have conducted attacks since November in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

CENTCOM also said Monday it destroyed a Houthi aerial drone that was flying toward a U.S. Navy destroyer and a U.S. Navy cruiser in the Red Sea.

“It was determined the UAV presented an imminent threat to U.S., coalition, and merchant vessels in the region,” CENTCOM said in a statement.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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