Suspected Houthi attack in Yemen targets ship passing through Bab al-Mandab Strait

Suspected Houthi attack in Yemen targets ship passing through Bab al-Mandab Strait

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A suspected attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels targeted a Liberian-flagged tanker in the narrow Bab el-Mandeb Strait on Wednesday, as authorities acknowledged the rebels had launched their longest attack yet on a U.S.-flagged ship near the Arabian Sea.

The attacks come after an unexplained pause of a week and a half. The rebels may be regrouping ahead of the arrival of a new US aircraft carrier in the region after the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower began returning to base.

The Liberian-flagged ship was identified as the Mount Fuji by the US Navy’s Joint Maritime Information Center. The UK’s Maritime Trade Operations Centre said the attack occurred south of Moka. The captain reported explosions on the side of the ship.

The UK Maritime Authority said: “The vessel and all crew are safe and the vessel is on its way to its next port of call.”

The Houthis have been attacking ships in the busy Red Sea waterway since November, after a war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza began. The rebels did not claim responsibility for the latest attack until Thursday morning, although they usually do so only hours or days later.

The Houthis said on Tuesday they fired missiles at a U.S.-flagged container ship in the Gulf of Aden. The Joint Investigative Committee identified the ship as the Maersk Sentosa and said it was the longest attack the Houthis have seen from Yemen since November.

Late Tuesday, the Houthis issued a broad statement claiming responsibility for three attacks, including on the Maersk Sentosa. Maersk, a Danish company that is the world’s largest shipping company, confirmed to The Associated Press that its ship was targeted.

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“There are no reports of injuries to the crew or damage to the vessel or cargo. The vessel is currently continuing its journey to its next port of call,” the shipping company said in a statement.

The rebels have targeted more than 70 ships with missiles and drones in their campaign, which has killed four sailors. One ship was captured. And Two drowned Since November.

In June, the number of Houthi attacks on commercial shipping rose to levels not seen since December, according to the Joint Military Cooperation Center. U.S.-led airstrikes have targeted the Houthis since January, along with other commercial ships. May 30th Strike Series The rebels said the clashes killed at least 16 people and wounded 42 others.

The Houthis insist their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the United States or Britain as part of the rebels’ support for the militant group Hamas in its war against Israel. However, many of the ships attacked have little or no connection to the war — including some bound for Iran, which supports the Houthis.

Only a few Houthi attacks have targeted U.S.-flagged commercial ships.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt is set to enter the Middle East to replace the Eisenhower, which has spent months in the Red Sea fighting the Houthis. The Navy has not provided new details on the Roosevelt’s location, though a Navy photo released Friday placed the carrier in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the US Central Command announced on Wednesday that its forces destroyed two Houthi drones and an unmanned surface vehicle over the Red Sea.

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Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

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