DUBAI: A drone attack on Sunday caused damage to a merchant ship in the Red Sea, near the Yemeni coast. Two maritime security agencies informed of the attack, and reported minor injuries.

Vessels in and around the Red Sea (which is vital to world trade) have come under repeated attack in recent-months, by Houthi rebels in Yemen. The rebels say they are acting in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The latest attack occurred about 65 nautical miles (120 kilometres) west of the Yemeni port city of Hodeida, according to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), which is run by Britain’s Royal Navy.

“The Master of a merchant vessel reports being hit by uncrewed aerial system (UAS), resulting in damage to the vessel,” read a bulletin from the agency, adding that the “vessel is proceeding to its next port of call” and initially reporting no casualties.

“Authorities are investigating,” it added. British maritime security firm ‘Ambrey’ stated the vessel was “a Liberia-flagged, Greece-owned bulk carrier”.

The Joint Maritime Information Centre (JMIC), working with a Western-led naval task force in the region, said it was “the second time the vessel was targeted” after missiles were fired at it earlier on its voyage through the Gulf of Aden.

“While transiting in the Red Sea, the vessel reported being hit. Several members of the crew sustained non-life threatening injuries that do not require immediate medical attention,” the centre said.

“JMIC has investigated and assesses this vessel was targeted due to other vessels within its company structure making port calls in Israel.” Later on Sunday, UKMTO said it received a distress call from a second vessel, this one off Yemen’s southeastern coast, that had “suffered flooding that cannot be contained”.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2024

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