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The New Arab & agencies

Yemen rebels 'pose threat' to Red Sea shipping

Houthi rebels control some of Yemen's most important strategic areas [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 October, 2016

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The Saudi-led coalition - supporting the Yemeni government - has claimed that Houthi rebels pose a threat to oil tankers and other ships passing through the region.
Houthi militants in Yemen are posing a threat to shipping in the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia claimed on Sunday.

It comes after an Emirati shop came under attack by the rebels while passing along the Yemeni coast.

The coalition said Houthi militiamen had attacked the vessel "on its usual route to and from (the southern port city of) Aden to transfer relief and medical aid and evacuate wounded civilians".

"Coalition air and naval forces targeted Houthi militia boats involved in the attack", it said.

They said that coalition forces rescued "civilian passengers" after Friday night's attack.

"This incident demonstrates Houthi tactics of terrorist attacks against civilian international navigation in the Bab al-Mandab," the coalition said in a statement.

The strait is a major shipping lane between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden leading into the Indian Ocean.

The rebels, in a statement posted Saturday on their website, claimed the attack which it said targeted and "completely destroyed" an Emirati warship with rockets as it neared Mokha on the Red Sea coast.

The UAE military acknowledged "an incident" involving a chartered vessel under its command in the Bab al-Mandab as it was returning from a "routine" journey to Aden, further south, but it reported no casualties.

On Sunday, the rebels reported on that five people were killed and six wounded in a coalition air strike targeting fishing boats off Wahjah, south of Mokha. The incident could not be independently confirmed.

The UAE is a key member of the coalition that has been battling the Houthis and their allies since March last year in support of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi's internationally-recognised government.

Since March 2015, the coalition has pushed the rebels out of much of Yemen's south, but they still control nearly all of the country's Red Sea coast as well as swathes of territory around the capital Sanaa.

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