Houthi militia target Saudi Arabian oil tanker in Red Sea, causing “minor damage”

Houthi militant walks at Red Sea port of Al-Hudaydah in Yemen. (Reuters)
Updated 04 April 2018

Houthi militia target Saudi Arabian oil tanker in Red Sea, causing “minor damage”

  • Houthi and Iran attack Saudi Arabian tanker near Port of Hudaydah
  • Saudi-led Arab Coalition's navy repelled the attack on tanker in Red Sea
JEDDAH: A Saudi oil tanker was attacked by Houthi militia off the coast of Yemen on Tuesday, raising concern over the threat to shipping in one of the world’s busiest maritime routes.
The afternoon attack took place in international waters west of Hodeidah port, which is controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis, Col. Turki Al-Malki, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said.
A coalition warship conducted a “swift intervention” foiling the attack, a statement said. The tanker suffered minor damage and continued its course under escort.
“The attack is a serious threat to the freedom of maritime navigation and international trade in the Red Sea and Bab Al-Mandab Strait,” Al-Malki said
Houthi control of sections of the Red Sea coast has been a concern for international shipping since the militants seized the capital Sanaa and territory across the country’s north. 
An EU naval force that operates in the region confirmed the ship was underway, adding that the crew were safe and unharmed, Reuters reported. 
The Houthis have carried out several attacks on coalition ships, including in Jan. 2017 when two crew members of a Saudi frigate were killed. The militants have also targeted US warships. 
The attack came after Saudi air defenses last week intercepted a flurry of ballistic missiles fired by the Houthis, which drew international condemnation. 
Saudi Arabia, Arab countries and the US say the missiles and other weaponry come from Iran and are smuggled into Yemen.
The Saudi coalition is supporting the internationally recognized government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi against the Houthis.
In Geneva on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the sides in Yemen to reach a political settlement. 
Speaking at a fund-raising conference for Yemen, Guterres said his Special Envoy Martin Griffiths will head to the UAE, Oman and the Yemeni government-held city of Aden in the drive for peace, Reuters reported.
Guterres said he saw “positive perspectives” for preparing a plan of action “to lead to an effective inter-Yemeni dialogue able to achieve a political solution, with of course the involvement of all those that are relevant in this conflict”.
He announced that more than $2 billion has been pledged toward a UN humanitarian appeal of $3 billion for Yemen this year. It includes $930 million from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek Al-Mekhlafi called for a return to the negotiating table to end the war.
On Monday, King Salman stressed in a phone call with Donald Trump the Kingdom’s efforts to find a political solution to the Yemen crisis and provide humanitarian relief and support to its people, Saudi Press Agency reported.
They also discussed Iran’s attempts to destabilize the region.

Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

Updated 18 min 48 sec ago

Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests

COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.