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A suspected attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels has targeted a ship in the Gulf of Aden

By Associated Press
Published: March 17, 2024, 4:32pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A suspected attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels saw an explosive detonate near a ship early Sunday in the Gulf of Aden, potentially marking their latest assault on shipping through the crucial waterway leading to the Red Sea.

The British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said the vessel’s crew saw the blast as it passed off the coast of Aden, the port city in southern Yemen home to the country’s exiled government.

“No damage to the vessel has been reported and the crew are reported safe,” UKMTO said.

The Houthis have launched repeated drone and missile attacks in the same area, disrupting energy and cargo shipments through the Gulf of Aden.

The rebels did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack, though it typically takes the Houthis several hours before acknowledging their assaults.

Separately, the U.S. military’s Central Command said it carried out a series of strikes targeting the Houthis. It said it destroyed five drone boats and one drone before takeoff from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen on Saturday. It was an unusually high number of drone boats to be destroyed.

Separately, the U.S. military shot down one Houthi drone over the Red Sea, while another was “presumed to have crashed.”

“There were no reports of damage or injuries from ships in the vicinity,” Central Command said.

The Houthis have attacked ships since November, saying they want to force Israel to end its offensive in the Gaza Strip against Hamas.

The ships targeted by the Houthis, however, largely have had little or no connection to Israel, the U.S. or other nations involved in the war. The rebels have also fired missiles toward Israel, though they have largely fallen short or been intercepted.

The assaults on shipping have raised the profile of the Houthis, who are members of Islam’s minority Shiite Zaydi sect, which ruled Yemen for 1,000 years until 1962.

A report Thursday claimed the Houthis now have a hypersonic missile, potentially increasing that cachet and putting more pressure on Israel after a cease-fire deal failed to take hold in Gaza before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Hypersonic missiles would pose a more serious threat to American and allied warships in the region.

Earlier in March, a Houthi missile struck a commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden, killing three of its crew members and forcing survivors to abandon the vessel. It marked the first fatal attack by the Houthis on shipping.

Other recent Houthi actions include an attack last month on a cargo ship carrying fertilizer that later sank after drifting for several days.