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Iran-Backed Houthis Attack Container Ship In Red Sea

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A container ship traveling the Red Sea was damaged after a missile attack reportedly by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels Monday, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) center reported Monday.

The strike took place near Mokha, Yemen, escalating tensions along a crucial maritime corridor that is pivotal for global shipping.

Iran-backed Houthi militants have escalated their attacks on shipping lanes in allegiance with Islamist group Hamas, with a particular focus on vessels linked to Israel or its principal allies, the US and Britain. The heightened risk has led several shipping companies to avoid the waters.

Security firm Ambrey indicated that the Malta-flagged container ship was targeted by three missiles while en route from Djibouti to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

“The vessel was targeted due to its listed operator’s ongoing trade with Israel,” Ambrey said.

In a statement, CMA CGM, a shipping company based in Marseille, stated that their Malta-flagged vessel, CMA CGM Manta Ray, was not affected as it was docked in Djibouti during the attack.

US Central Command (USCENTCOM) reported the successful interception of five unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over the Red Sea.

“These actions are taken to protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for US, coalition, and merchant vessels,” read the statement by CENTCOM.

The Houthis did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack, though suspicion was directed at the group. It is common for the rebels to take several hours to acknowledge their operations.

The US Maritime Administration has recorded over 50 incidents involving Houthi disruptions since November, including vessel captures and sinkings. A recent downturn in such incidents coincided with a US-led airstrike campaign targeting Houthi strongholds in Yemen, which allegedly reduced the group’s capabilities.