Missile attack targets ship off Yemen: security agencies

Missile attack targets ship off Yemen: security agencies

Missile attack targets ship off Yemen: security agencies

by AFP Staff Writers

Dubai (AFP) Feb 16, 2024

A missile fired from Yemen damaged a Panama-flagged tanker off the coast in the Red Sea on Friday, security agencies and a US official said.

It came as the US formally redesignated Yemen’s Huthi rebels as “terrorists” over their attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, a campaign the Huthis say is in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza amid the Israel-Hamas war.

A US State Department spokesperson said a missile fired from Yemen “struck the port side of the India-bound, Panamanian-flagged MT Pollux, which was carrying crude oil.”

The extent of the damage is known, the official said, adding that the tanker was proceeding on its voyage.

Security firm Ambrey said the Panama-flagged tanker “sustained minor damage” in the missile strike northwest of the Yemeni coastal city of Mokha.

“Another vessel… to the northeast of the tanker was observed altering course to port, away from the tanker,” Ambrey said.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations agency said military authorities were responding, but noted “the crew and the vessel are reported safe.”

Friday’s strike came as a US decision in January to redesignate the Huthis as “terrorists” formally came into force.

The designation would not prohibit “the shipping of commercial goods into ports and airports in Huthi-controlled areas,” the State Department spokesperson said.

Shipments of “food and other commodities to the Yemeni people are not covered by these new sanctions,” the spokesperson said.

The designation is part of a wider effort by the US to deter Huthi attacks on the key shipping route through the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

On Friday, the US military said it conducted two strikes “against three mobile anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) in Huthi-controlled areas of Yemen that were prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea”.

The strikes were carrie dout between 3:10 pm and 8 pm (1210 GMT and 1700 GMT) on Thursday, CENTCOM said.

The Huthi attacks have prompted some shipping firms to reroute their vessels around the southern tip of Africa to avoid the Red Sea, which normally carries about 12 percent of global maritime trade.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development said 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.

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