Yemen's Houthi rebels have claimed an attack on a merchant ship in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen.

A Houthi spokesman said the group had targeted a Liberian-flagged vessel named Tutor using a sea drone.

The Royal Navy’s UK’s Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) office said it received reports of a ship being struck on the stern about 66 nautical miles southwest of the rebel-held port of Hodeida in Yemen on Wednesday.

The vessel was taking on water, and not under the command of the crew, UKMTO reported. No casualties were reported.

It added that the vessel was hit for a second time "by an unknown airborne projectile" and that military authorities were assisting.

In a statement, a Houthi military spokesman said the ship was attacked "using an unmanned surface boat, number of drones, and ballistic missiles", adding that the ship was "seriously damaged, vulnerable to sinking".

The ship was targeted "because the company that owns the ship has violated the decision to ban entry into the ports of occupied Palestine", the statement said.

Reuters news agency reports that the vessel was a Greek-owned cargo ship.

Maritime security firm Ambrey "assessed the vessel aligned with the [Houthi] target profile at the time of the incident", according to a statement cited by AFP news agency.

The armed Houthi group sees itself as part of an Iranian-led "axis of resistance" against Israel, the US and the wider West, and has declared its support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Since November, the rebel group has been carrying out attacks on ships they say are linked to Israel in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, saying their actions are in support of the Palestinians.

The US and the UK have carried out a series of attacks on Houthi targets inside Yemen in response, leading the Houthis to retaliate against ships it believes are linked to those countries.

The rebels' attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea prompted many shipping companies to stop using the waterway, through which about 12% of global seaborne trade passes.

Separately, the UN has said Houthis in Yemen have detained two more of its employees, bringing the total number of personnel seized by the group in the past week to 13.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said one of its staff members was among those detained. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X he was “deeply worried” about the situation.

2024-06-12T22:27:10Z dg43tfdfdgfd