Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

Saudi-led coalition says the vessel was carrying medical equipment when it was seized off the coast of Hodeidah.

Yemen’s Houthi fighters say they seized a UAE flagging vessel in the Red Sea, claiming it carried “military supplies” after the Saudi-led coalition accused the armed group of “piracy”.

The vessel “entered Yemeni waters off the coast of Hodeidah” ​​without permission and was carrying out “hostile acts”, Houthi military spokesman Yahia Saree said on Twitter on Monday.

The Rwabee seizure is the latest attack in the Red Sea, a crucial route for international trade and energy shipments.

The first word of the Rwabee’s seizure came from the British Army’s UK Maritime Trade Operations, which only said that an attack around midnight targeted an unnamed vessel.

The coordinates it offered correspond to the Emirati-flagged Rwabee landing craft, which according to the website MarineTraffic.com did not provide its location for hours using satellite tracking data.

Hours later, a statement from the Saudi-led coalition, carried by state media in the kingdom, acknowledged the attack, saying the Houthis had committed an act of “armed piracy” in which the vessel was involved.

The coalition claimed the ship was transporting medical equipment from a dismantled Saudi field hospital in the remote island of Socotra.

“The Houthi militia must release the ship immediately, otherwise the coalition forces will take all necessary measures and procedures to deal with this offense, including the use of force,” Brigadier General Turki al-Malki said in a statement on Monday.

In 2016, the Emirati vessel SWIFT-1, which was sailing back and forth in the Red Sea between an Emirati troop base in Eritrea and Yemen, was attacked by Houthi forces.

The Emirati government has claimed that the SWIFT-1 carried humanitarian aid. UN experts later said in a statement that they were “not convinced of the truth”.

Yemen was plunged into chaos in 2014 when Houthi rebels took control of the capital Sanaa. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia intervened in 2015 in support of the government.

During the conflict, which killed tens of thousands and pushed Yemen to the brink of starvation, the Saudi-led coalition launched thousands of airstrikes inside Yemen that also hit markets, schools and hospitals. Houthi forces regularly sent drones and missiles to Saudi Arabian cities.

About four million people were internally displaced during the fighting. In September, the World Food Program warned that 16 million Yemenis were “marching after famine.”

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