MUKALLA, Yemen: Saudi-led coalition naval forces in the Red Sea thwarted an attempt by Iran-backed Houthi militias to carry out a terror attack on Sunday using an unmanned boat packed with explosives.
The vessel was launched from Hodeidah province in western Yemen, but tracked and destroyed, said coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki.
“The coalition navy detected on Sunday morning an imminent hostile, terrorist attack in Southern Red Sea using a remote-controlled boat set to explode, by the terrorist Iran-backed Houthi militia,” Al-Malki said in statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
It was the third time in three months that the Houthis had attempted such an attack, a senior coast guard officer told Arab News.
The planned attack was a threat to security and maritime trade, Al-Maliki said, and the use of Hodeidah was a “glaring violation” of the UN-brokered Stockholm peace agreement in December 2018.
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Three naval mines were also discovered and destroyed in Bab-El-Mandeb strait and the southern Red Sea during the past 24 hours, bringing the number of detected naval mines deployed by the Houthi militia to 150.
“The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition continues to implement rigorous measures against this terrorist militia to neutralize and destroy such capabilities that threaten regional and international security,” Al-Malki said.
Later on Sunday, coalition warplanes carried out several airstrikes on the Houthi-held capital Sanaa, hitting the presidential palace and other military sites. Al-Maliki said the airstrikes had destroyed Houthi sites used to store ballistic missiles and drones.
Meanwhile, the coalition and Yemen’s internationally recognized government have intensified security measures around main sea and land entry posts in Yemen to prevent Iran from smuggling arms to the Houthis.
Hundreds more Yemeni coast guard soldiers have been deployed off the Yemeni coasts, and even local fishermen have been recruited.
“They are now helping us monitor the sea. They alert us about any ship or boat suspected of carrying weapons to the Houthis,” a coast guard officer in the Red Sea Khokha district told Arab News.
Vehicle inspections have also been stepped up at dozens of army and security checkpoints, and several arms shipments have already been intercepted.