Yemen: Houthi rebels’ missile strike sets fire to cargo ship, 1 injured

Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched two anti-ship cruise missiles and hit a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, setting it on fire and severely injuring one civilian mariner, according to PTI.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched two anti-ship cruise missiles and struck a commercial ship Thursday in the Gulf of Aden off Yemen, setting it on fire (AP/File)

The ship, M/V Verbena, was still on fire and the wounded mariner was taken to another ship for medical treatment by a US helicopter based on the USS Philippine Sea, according to the US military’s Central Command.

Central Command issued a statement saying, “The M/V Verbena reported damage and subsequent fires on board. The crew continues to fight the fire.”

They added, according to PTI, that the Verbena – a Palaun flagged, Ukrainian-owned and Polish operated carrier was carrying wood from Malaysia to Italy.

Read more: Leaders of UN and aid groups urge immediate release of 17 staffers being held by Yemen’s rebels

Private security firm Ambrey had received a distress call from the vessel early Thursday about being attacked by a missile and the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations centre announced that a vessel had been attacked and had caught fire, according to PTI.

The attack by the Houthis’ is the latest in a campaign over the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The Houthis claimed the attack on the Verbena and two other ships in the Red Sea. PTI reported that the other two , according to Central Command, caused “no injuries or significant damage”.

The UKMTO said one vessel earlier missed by the Houthis was hit by a “third projectile” that caused “minor damage.” The vessel was able to remain underway, it said.

Central Command also said it destroyed a Houthi drone boat and two patrol boats in the Red Sea, as well as one airborne drone.

The Houthis seized Yemen’s capital nearly a decade ago and have been fighting a Saudi-led coalition since then.

They have been targeting shipping throughout the Red Sea corridor, to supposedly stop the conflict in Gaza but the vessels they target are often not related to the conflict.

Read more: UN: 39 out of 260 migrants from Africa dead after boat sinks off Yemen coast

The war in Gaza has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians there, according to Gaza health officials, while hundreds of others have been killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. It began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage.

The US Maritime Administration says that the Houthis have launched 50 shipping attacks, seized one vessel, sunk another and killed three people.

The US has also struck back on the Houthis since January, killing t least 16 people and wounding 42, according to the rebels, as reported by PTI.

On Thursday it was revealed that the Houthis also detained three staff members of the Washington-based National Democratic Institute (NDI). United Nations staff and those working for aid groups have been detained by the rebels as well.

Read more: Yemen’s Houthis sentence 44 to death on charges of collaboration with a Saudi-led coalition

The NDI stated, “This arbitrary and inhumane treatment of Yemeni citizens involved in humanitarian assistance, diplomacy, democracy and human rights, peacemaking and civil society development is entirely without foundation and must be ended immediately,” according to PTI.

It also called for the “swift release by the Houthi regime of our staff, and of all individuals who have been unjustly detained.”

The NDI is a pro-democracy organisation that has worked in Yemen since 1993. It receives funding from the US government and others.

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