Houthi missile strike kills 2 civilians on commercial ship

  • Yemeni Houthi rebels have been attacking ships in Red Sea
  • Missile strike that killed 2 marks first fatalities in campaign of assaults
  • No Americans were on ship; ship not owned by United States
Houthi fighters and tribesmen stage a rally against the U.S. and the U.K. strikes on Houthi-run military sites near Sanaa, Yemen, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP Photo)

Houthi fighters and tribesmen stage a rally against the U.S. and the U.K. strikes on Houthi-run military sites near Sanaa, Yemen, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP Photo)

(NewsNation) — A missile strike conducted by Houthi militants in Yemen killed two civilians on a commercial ship in the Gulf of Aden, a United States official confirmed to NewsNation Wednesday.

Authorities said survivors abandoned the vessel, and that six people were injured, the Associated Press reported.

No Americans were on the ship, called “True Confidence,” at the time of the attack, and the vessel was not owned by the U.S., contrary to Houthi claims, the official told NewsNation. Instead, it is Barbados-flagged and Liberia is True Confidence’s registered owner.

Officials said, according to the AP, that the attack came after the vessel was hailed over radio by individuals claiming to be the Yemeni military.

The Associated Press writes that this is the first fatal strike in the campaign of assaults that Houthi rebels say have been conducted over the Israel-Hamas war. In response to these attacks, multiple shipping companies ordered their ships not to enter the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

“We will continue to take action to degrade the Houthi capabilities and work with other countries to protect international shipping as part of the international coalition we have set up under Operation Prosperity Guardian against the Houthi attacks,” the official said.

Yahya Sare’e, a Houthi military spokesperson, claimed in a statement that the strike was “accurate” and that it came after the ship’s crew ignored “warning messages” from Yemeni naval forces.

“The Yemeni armed forces persist in upholding their religious, moral and humanitarian duties in supporting the oppressed Palestinian people, and their operations in the Red and Arab Seas will not stop until the aggression stops and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted,” Sare’e said.

Despite more than a month and a half of U.S.-led airstrikes, Houthi rebels have remained capable of launching significant attacks, including one last month on a cargo ship carrying fertilizer.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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