Explosion reported near ship off Yemen coast as US expands raids on Houthis

AFP , Thursday 15 Feb 2024

An explosion was reported near a ship off the Red Sea coast of Yemen, British maritime security agency UKMTO said Thursday, adding that both the vessel and crew were safe.

RAF aircraft
US strikes on Houthi-held parts of Yemen that are intended to deter more ship attacks, but risk expanding the war on Gaza into a regional war. AP


The ship reported "an explosion in close proximity to the vessel" east of Yemen's Aden, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said, adding the vessel was sailing to its next port of call.

The event comes on top of a wave of US strikes on Houthi-held parts of Yemen that the US says are intended to deter more Red Sea ship attacks by the Yemen Houthis, but risk expanding the war on Gaza into a regional war.

On Thursday, the US military said it struck more drones and missiles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen that had been ready to be launched against Israel-linked ships in the Red Sea.

The raids occurred on Wednesday between 1:00-7:30 pm (1000-1630 GMT), CENTCOM said.

American "forces successfully conducted four self-defence strikes against seven mobile anti-ship cruise missiles, three mobile unmanned aerial vehicles, and one explosive unmanned surface vessel," it said.

The Yemeni Saba news agency reported several strikes on Hodeida province.

In an earlier statement on Wednesday, CENTCOM said an anti-ship ballistic missile was launched from Houthi-controlled areas into the Gulf of Aden, adding that there were no reports of casualties or damage from ships in the area.

Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the Yemeni rebels, in a speech on Thursday said the United States had launched around 40 strikes this week, most of them on Hodeida, noting that such attacks would fail to deter his forces from striking Israel-linked vessels if a ceasefire in Gaza is not reached.

He also warned the European Union against being drawn into the confrontation after member states last month gave initial backing to a naval mission to the Red Sea.

"European countries should not listen to the Americans or the British, and should not involve themselves in matters that do not concern them or affect them," the Houthi leader said.

The Houthi offensive has prompted some shipping companies to detour around southern Africa to avoid the Red Sea, which normally carries about 12 percent of global maritime trade.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development warned late last month that the volume of commercial traffic passing through the Suez Canal had fallen more than 40 percent in the previous two months.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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