Suspected Attack by Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Targets a Ship in the Gulf of Aden

Houthi fighters march during a rally of support for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and against the U.S. strikes on Yemen outside Sanaa on Jan. 22. (AP Photo, File)

A suspected attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeted a ship in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday, the latest assault blamed on the group on the crucial maritime trade route.

The captain of the ship reported an explosion in close proximity to the vessel off the coast of Nishtun, Yemen, close to the country’s border with Oman, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said. The ship, whose name and flag were not released, and all crew are safe, the UKMTO said in a warning to mariners.

The explosion took place in the farthest reaches of the waterway earlier targeted by the rebels, the center said.

It did not elaborate on what caused the explosion, though the Houthis have been known to use drones and missiles as well as bomb-carrying drone boats.

The Houthis did not immediately comment. It can take hours or even days before they acknowledge carrying out an attack. The last reported Houthi attack in the region took place June 28.

The rebels have targeted more than 60 vessels by firing missiles and drones in their campaign that has killed a total of four sailors. They seized one vessel and sank two since November. U.S.-led airstrikes have targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes on May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

The Houthis maintain that their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the United States or Britain as part of rebel support for the Hamas terror group in its war against Israel in the Gaza Strip. However, many of the ships attacked have little or no connection to the Israel-Hamas war — including some bound for Iran.

On June 28, five missiles landed near a Liberian-flagged tanker, Delinox, as it traveled off the coast of the rebel-held port city of Hodeida, according to the Joint Maritime Information Center. The following day, Houthi military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree said the group was responsible for two attacks on ships in the Red Sea, but it wasn’t immediately clear which ship was the one reported by the information center.

On June 27, a Malta-flagged bulk carrier, Seajoy, traveling through the Red Sea reported being hit in an attack carried out by the rebel group, which later said it used a done boat.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over 13 U.N. staffers and other aid workers who remain detained by the Houthi rebels and called for their immediate release.

“We remain extremely worried about the well-being of 13 U.N. staff and a number of NGO employees who have been detained for over a month now by the ‘Ansar Allah’ de facto authorities in Yemen. We continue to be refused access to them,” the office said in a statement.

Of the 13 employees, the U.N. has said six work for the U.N.’s human rights agency.

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