‘Explosions’ Alert After Houthi Drones, Missiles Hit Red Sea Ships

By Saeed Al-Batati

At least two commercial ships are believed to have been hit by drones and missiles launched by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen on Tuesday as the militia’s leaders pledged to confront a US-led international naval task force in the Red Sea. 

The UK’s Maritime Trade Operations authority received information from a ship on Tuesday afternoon saying an explosion had been heard and missiles spotted 60 nautical miles from Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hodeida.

An alert was also issued three hours earlier by UKMTO saying that a vessel had reported two explosions 15 minutes after seeing drones roughly 50 nautical miles west of Hodeidah. 

The Houthis have not yet claimed responsibility for the attacks as of late Tuesday.

The Yemen militia has launched ballistic missiles and drones against commercial and naval ships in the Red Sea in a bid to force Israel to end its assault on Gaza.

Houthi threats to hit Israeli-linked vessels have forced some major shipping firms, including Maersk and MSC, to reroute ships away from the key trade route.

The US is leading a global task force coalition to protect the crucial maritime link from Houthi strikes.

At the same time, the Houthis have repeated their threat to strike US-led forces or any other group if Yemen is attacked or if action is taken to stop the militia targeting ships bound for Israel.

Mohammed Al-Ateifi, Houthi defense minister, claimed his fighters are in “full combat readiness” to deal with any military response from the US or other countries, and vowed to continue missile and drone attacks in the Red Sea in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

“The ranges of our strategic deterrent weapons exceed what the enemies expect, and there are no red lines in front of us. All options are available,” the Houthi military leader told a meeting of commanders in Sanaa on Monday.

Meanwhile, Somali pirates captured a vessel carrying 43 Yemeni fishermen 30 miles off the Somali coastline area of Hafun on Sunday, according to Yemeni fishermen in the Red Sea Khokha region in Yemen.

Pirates sailed the seized boat to Somalia, where they freed 34 of the captives and sailed away with the remaining nine, heading to international waters.

“Those fishermen have a license from the Somali authorities to fish in Somali water,” said a relative of one of the abducted fishermen, who asked to remain anonymous.