DUBAI: The Saudi-led military coalition foiled attacks on Wednesday by Houthi militia speedboats laden with explosives targeting commercial ships in the Red Sea.
The remote-controlled boats had tried to attack three commercial vessels, including an oil tanker, being escorted by two coalition warships, Saudi state news channel Al-Ekhbariya said.
Coalition forces destroyed two of the speedboats, but two managed to get away, the UAE state news agency WAM reported.
The boats were threatening the oil tanker in international waters, the agency said. It was unclear whether any of the commercial ships had been damaged.
The Arab coalition, which is helping the Yemen government in its fight against the Iran-backed Houthis, has repeatedly warned of the threat the militias pose to international shipping.
Yemen’s coast is surrounded by some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, running through the narrow Bab-Al Mandab Strait and the Red Sea.
Houthis have previously targeted ships off Yemen’s coast and in January threatened to block the Red Sea.
Last month, a Saudi oil tanker was hit off Yemen’s main port of Hodeidah, suffering limited damage.
The fighting in Yemen has become focused on the Red Sea Coast, as Yemeni forces seek to push the Houthi militias north and regain control of Hodeidah.
Meanwhile, France and Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday they would co-host an international conference on Yemen in Paris in next month to assess humanitarian needs for the country.
“We are currently working on how to organize this conference with our various partners, Yemen and the United Nations,” France’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said.
She added that they hoped the humanitarian work would create the conditions for a return to political talks.
UN Yemen mediator Martin Griffiths said in April he wanted to present a plan for negotiations within two months to end the conflict.