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Friday, May 24, 2024

Houthis strike another US vessel

The US-owned bulk carrier was sailing to India from the Suez when it was hit

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have taken responsibility for an attack on the US-owned cargo vessel Genco Picardy, a spokesman for the militant group announced on Wednesday.

The United Kingdom Trade Organization (UKMTO) had received a report of an attack on a merchant ship around 60 nautical miles southeast of the Yemeni port of Aden.

Read more: Biden believes Yemen-based Houthis is ‘terrorist’ group

“Master reports vessel has been hit on the port side by an Uncrewed Aerial System,” the UKMTO said in their incident report late on Wednesday, referring to a likely drone attack. The report said the resulting fire was extinguished and that the vessel and crew were safe and proceeding to their next port of call.

Houthi spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Saree claimed responsibility for the attack in a televised address, naming the vessel as the US-owned Genco Picardy.

“The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces carried out a targeting operation against the American ship… in the Gulf of Aden… leaving direct hits,” Saree said. He reiterated that Yemeni armed forces “will not hesitate to target all sources of threat in the Arab and Red Seas within the legitimate right to defend dear Yemen and to continue supporting the oppressed Palestinian people.”

Read more: US Congress divided on Yemen bombing

The US Central Command said on X (formerly Twitter) that the ship was indeed US-owned and operated, while flying the flag of the Marshall Islands. “There were no injuries and some damage reported,” CENTCOM said, adding that the ship was “seaworthy and continuing underway.”

The Houthis have carried out dozens of drone and missile attacks in the Red Sea since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war in October. The militant group has vowed to continue until the war ends and the blockade of Gaza is lifted.

The increased risk of attack has forced major shipping firms to respond by avoiding the Suez Canal, the fastest cargo route from Asia to Europe. The traffic route normally accounts for 15% of the world’s commercial shipping.

Following last week’s US-UK airstrikes on Yemen, a Houthi spokesman announced that for a ship to be targeted, “it is enough for it to be American.”

The US and UK launched the bombing campaign last Thursday, with the stated goal of protecting maritime commerce in the Red Sea and the Bab-el-Mandeb straits. While US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby claimed the airstrikes were delivered to “good effect,” the New York Times reported on Saturday that the attacks left most of the Houthi military infrastructure intact.