The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has reportedly foiled an attack on a Saudi oil tanker on Saturday by Houthi fighters near the Port of Hodeidah, Reuters informed citing a statement from the coalition.
The tanker was being targeted by three remote-controlled drone boats carrying explosives, however, the coalition managed to destroy the boats before any damage was made, according to Col Turki Al Malki, spokesman of the coalition.
Al Malki added that the port is being used as a starting point for “terrorist operations to threaten the maritime navigation in the Red Sea and the Bab Al Mandeb strait.”
The Bab al-Mandab strait, where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea, is only 20 km wide, making hundreds of ships potentially an easy target.
The attack is being reported on the back of Houthi movement’s threats to block the Red Sea shipping lane if the Saudi Arabia-led coalition continues moving toward the Port of Hodeidah.
The tensions between the two sides continue heating up, especially following the coalition’s closure of Red Sea ports back in November last year. The closure applies to ports under the control of Houthi rebels, namely Hodeidah and Saleef, and followed Saudi Arabia’s interception of a ballistic missile, which targeted Riyadh.
Repeated threats to attack commercial shipping are being made amid calls from both the Houthi movement and the international community to end the port blockade to aid ships.
The United Nations warned that Yemen will be gripped by famine, “one the likes of which the world has not seen in years”, if the blockade on basic supplies into the country is not lifted.
As informed by the UN, three years into a brutal conflict, Yemen depends on imports – amounting to up to 90 percent of its daily needs – and millions in the country are being kept alive by humanitarian aid.
The fighting has also all but collapsed the country’s health, and water and sanitation systems.
World Maritime News Staff