A Maersk container ship transits the Singapore Strait
DUBAI (Reuters) – U.S. Navy helicopters destroyed three of four boats used by fighters from Yemen's Houthi rebel movement to attack a merchant ship, U.S. Command (CENTCOM) said.
The helicopters responded to distress calls made by the crew of the Singapore-flagged container ship Maersk Hangzhou.
None of the three boats that sank survived. A fourth managed to escape, Centcom said.
In a statement, Houthi spokesman Yehia Sarea said ten Houthi fighters were “dead or missing”. He also said the boats had earlier fired a missile at Maersk Hangzhou after refusing to comply.
The Iran-allied Houthis, who control much of Yemen, have hit back at Israel's war in Gaza by attacking ships passing through the Bab el Mandeb strait at the southern end of the Red Sea, disrupting global trade. .
Danish shipping carrier Maersk confirmed the cargo ship's crew reported the attack while it was 55 nautical miles southwest of Al Hodeidah at 1730 GMT on Friday.
It immediately announced that it would suspend all transit of its fleet through the Red Sea for 48 hours, according to the Danish newspaper Ritsa.
(Ahmed Elimam; French version by Nicolas Delamay and Tangy Salan)
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”