Houthi missile attack severely injures sailor on cargo ship: U.S. military

Houthis have been targeting vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November 2023 in attacks they say are in solidarity with Palestinians during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip

Published - June 14, 2024 10:57 am IST - Dubai

Students carry a mock missile at a rally to show support for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in Sanaa, Yemen. File

Students carry a mock missile at a rally to show support for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in Sanaa, Yemen. File | Photo Credit: Reuters

Two cruise missiles launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels struck a bulk cargo carrier in the Gulf of Aden on June 13, severely injuring a sailor who was evacuated by American forces, the U.S. military said.

The Houthis have been targeting vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November 2023 in attacks they say are in solidarity with Palestinians during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip. Although this has caused major disruption to international shipping, casualties have been rare.

The M/V Verbena — a Palauan-flagged, Ukrainian-owned, Polish-operated ship — "reported damage and subsequent fires on board. The crew continues to fight the fire. One civilian mariner was severely injured during the attack," the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement.

"Aircraft from USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) medically evacuated the injured mariner to a partner force ship nearby for medical attention," CENTCOM said. "This continued reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Huthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden."

The Huthis on June 13 said they had carried out attacks on three ships within the past 24 hours, including the Verbena, "in retaliation to the crimes committed against our people in the Gaza Strip, and in response to the American-British aggression against our country".

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), meanwhile, reported an explosion close to a merchant vessel in the Red Sea about 80 nautical miles northwest of Yemen's rebel-held Hodeida port, with no damage or casualties. CENTCOM later said that over the previous 24 hours it had destroyed an air defence sensor, two patrol boats, and nautical and aerial drones belonging to the Huthis.

The Houthis, who are at war with a Saudi Arabia-led coalition after ousting the government from Sanaa in 2014, have launched scores of drone and missile attacks on shipping vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden since November. The first reported fatalities from the attacks on ships occurred in the Gulf of Aden in March.

On June 12, the Huthis struck the Tutor, a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier, southwest of Hodeida. They claimed to have used seaborne and aerial drones as well as ballistic missiles. CENTCOM said at the time that the Tutor had been hit by a Huthi "unmanned surface vessel" that "caused severe flooding and damage to the engine room".

On June 13, CENTCOM accused the Houthis of claiming to act "on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza and yet they are targeting and threatening the lives of third country nationals who have nothing to do with the conflict".

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