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Houthi rebels step up attacks on Red Sea ships, US strikes Yemeni targets

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The U.S. military destroyed three anti-ship cruise missile launchers in Houthi-controlled Yemen in an airstrike late Thursday, U.S. Central Command said, as the armed rebel group stepped up attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

The latest U.S. attack came as the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who control much of Yemen, stepped up their military operations in the Red Sea, firing missiles at two ships on Thursday after bombing one the day before, maritime security monitors said.

Britain’s Maritime Trade Operations said in an online post that a commercial vessel was hit by shells and caught fire about 98 nautical miles east of the Yemeni city of Aden. It did not identify the vessel.

But U.S. Central Command said two Houthi missiles hit the Verbana, a Ukrainian bulk carrier in the Gulf of Aden, seriously injuring a crew member who was then evacuated to another ship.

Polish operated vessels The ship was transporting timber to Italy when it caught fire. The US military said “the crew is continuing to fight the fire”.

The British maritime agency said it had also received a report from an officer on a second ship, about 82 nautical miles northwest of the port of Hodeidah, that an explosion had occurred near the ship.

“There was no damage to the vessel, all crew members are safe and the vessel is proceeding to its next port of call,” the agency said.

In a televised address, Houthi spokesman Yahya Sarri said that in addition to the Verbana, the Houthis had attacked two other ships, which he identified as the Sea Guardian and the Athena. Sarri’s statement could not be independently verified.

On Wednesday, a Greek merchant ship, the Tutor, sent out a distress call after the Houthis said they attacked the vessel using unmanned surface vessels, drones and ballistic missiles.

The attack caused severe flooding and damaged the engine room, Central Command said. As of Thursday, the fate of the ship remained unclear. Central Command said the Houthis’ “continued malicious and reckless behavior” threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of sailors in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

It added that the threat posed by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea made it more difficult to deliver critical aid to the Yemeni people and Gaza.

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