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Missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels damages a ship in the Red Sea

JERUSALEM (AP) — A missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels damaged a ship in the Red Sea on Monday, authorities said, the latest attack in their campaign against shipping on the crucial shipping route.

The attack took place off the coast of Mokha, Yemen, the British Army’s Maritime Commercial Operations Center in the United Kingdom said. The ship was damaged in the attack, the UKMTO said, although its crew were safe and heading to their next port of call. The agency urged vessels to exercise caution in the area.

There was “an explosion in the immediate vicinity of a merchant ship”, the UKMTO said. “The ship and crew are declared safe and sound.”

U.S. Army Central Command identified the damaged vessel as the Cyclades, a Maltese-flagged bulk carrier owned by Greece. The military separately shot down a drone as it headed toward the USS Philippine Sea and the USS Laboon, the military said Tuesday.

Houthi military spokesman Brig.-Gen. Gen. Yahya Saree claimed responsibility for the attack on the Cyclades and the targeting of U.S. warships in a statement Tuesday morning.

On Monday, the Italian Defense Ministry said its Virgino Fasan frigate shot down a Houthi drone that morning near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

“A missile exploded in the water near the escorted vessel, causing only minor superficial damage,” the Italian Defense Ministry said, without identifying the escorted commercial vessel. “The frigate Fasan and the protected merchant ship continue their course south as planned to exit the Red Sea.”

Saree did not acknowledge this attack, although he said the Houthis had also targeted a ship in the Indian Ocean. There were no immediate reports or evidence to support this claim.

The Houthis say their attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are aimed at pressuring Israel to end its war against Hamas in Gaza, which killed more than 34,000 Palestinians there. The war began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking some 250 others hostage.

The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, has seized one ship and sunk another since November, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration.

Houthi attacks have declined in recent weeks as the rebels have been targeted by a US-led campaign of airstrikes in Yemen. Shipping via the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden has declined due to the threat.

U.S. officials have speculated that the rebels may be short of weapons because of the U.S.-led campaign against them and after regularly firing drones and missiles for months. However, the rebels renewed their attacks last week. Early Sunday morning, the US military shot down five drones in flight over the Red Sea, its central command said.

The drones “posed an imminent threat to U.S., coalition and merchant ships in the region,” Central Command said in a statement.

THE Houthis on Saturday, they claimed to have shot another American military drones MQ-9 Reaper, broadcasting images of parts corresponding to known parts of the unmanned aircraft. U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bryon J. McGarry, a Defense Department spokesman, acknowledged Saturday to the Associated Press that “a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 drone crashed in Yemen. He indicated that an investigation was underway, without further details.

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