AL-MUKALLA: A commercial ship was attacked by machine-gun fire on Friday off the coast of the western Yemeni province of Hodeidah — the first maritime incident in the Red Sea since the beginning of the year, according to an analysis group based in the UK.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations issued an alert and reported that the vessel’s security team fired back at the attackers and that both the vessel and its crew were unharmed.
“UKMTO has received reports of an M/V being fired upon by one craft in position 141307N 0424401E. Vessel reported approximately 4 to 5 bursts of automatic fire. On board AST returned fire. Incident located 30NM from port Hodeidah. Vessel and crew safe,” the report said, providing no information on the ship’s name or country of origin.
TradeWinds, a maritime news website, cited Ambrey Security as saying that the ship’s identity was concealed, but that it was a Greek-controlled bulker under the flag of Liberia and that it was heading north.
Yemeni government coastguards said the incident happened near Houthi-controlled territories and that the vessel was traveling a route that ships have largely avoided for the past eight years because of security concerns.
“The ship seems to have taken a risky route northeast of Zuqar Island near the Yemeni coast,” a Yemeni coastguard, who asked to remain anonymous, told Arab News, adding that the ship was following the same path as the UAE cargo ship Rawabi, which was captured by the Houthis in January 2022.
Meanwhile, fighting erupted between Yemeni government troops and the Houthis in the central province of Marib on Friday, as the Yemeni Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Mohsen Al-Daeri conducted his first visit to the area’s battlefields since assuming his position.
An intense battle broke out in disputed areas of Hareb, south of Marib, when the Houthis assaulted government forces there — the latest in a series of Houthi strikes on government soldiers defending the oil- and gas-rich city. Yemeni troops and allied tribesmen are reported to have repulsed the Houthi raids.
Al-Daeri was accompanied on his visit to the frontlines north of Marib by Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Sagheer bin Aziz and military commander Maj. Gen. Sultan Al-Baqami. The defense minister ordered Yemeni military forces to be ready to repel Houthi attacks and to fight to gain ground if peace talks fail.
“If the terrorist militia does not accept a comprehensive and fair peace in accordance with the agreed upon terms of reference, the armed forces are prepared to liberate the remainder of the country’s land,” he said, according to Yemen’s official news agency SABA.