Houthi militants have been targeting merchant ships in the Red Sea for months in response to Israel’s military operation in Gaza
A civilian ship has come under fire off the coast of Yemen, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) has confirmed. No casualties or significant damage have been reported.
Since the start of Israel’s military operation against Hamas in Gaza, Houthi militants controlling large swaths of Yemen have been targeting merchant ships traversing the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The Shiite group had initially focused on vessels they believed to be linked to Israel, claiming they were acting in protest over the country’s actions in Palestinian territory. However, after the US and the UK conducted a number of strikes on Houthi facilities, the group said it would now also attack ships affiliated with either nation.
On Monday, the UKMTO, which is a monitoring service operated by the British Navy, released a statement, saying it had “received a report of an incident, 40NM South of AL Mukha, Yemen.”
“Master reports his vessel was attacked by two missiles and reports minor damage,” the UKMTO said, adding that the unnamed ship and its crew were safe, and en route to the next port of call. It advised all vessels to “transit with caution” in the area.
Last Tuesday, the US Central Command reported that Houthi militants had fired several missiles at the Greek-owned bulk carrier Star Nasia, sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands, as well as the UK-owned, Barbados-flagged carrier Morning Tide off the Yemeni coast. According to the statement, both vessels remained seaworthy and had continued their planned journeys, with no casualties reported aboard either one.
The Shiite group’s spokesperson, Yahya Saree, described Star Nasia as a US vessel, warning that Houthis were planning to conduct more attacks on British and American ships in response to the “aggression” perpetrated by London and Washington.
Earlier this month, the US Central Command stated that the American and British air forces and navies had carried out a series of strikes against at least 36 alleged Houthi targets in 13 locations across Yemen. The US military claimed that “multiple underground storage facilities, command and control, missile systems, UAV storage and operations sites, radars, and helicopters” had been hit as a result.
In response, the Houthis vowed to “meet escalation with escalation,” and continue attacking civilian vessels until Israel halts its military action in Gaza.
Washington and London conducted similar strikes over the course of January.