At least 3 sailors killed on commercial vessel in Houthi attack: CENTCOM

A Houthi rebel attack on Wednesday killed at least three crew members on a commercial vessel in the Gulf of Aden, forcing the crew to abandon ship.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said three members of a multinational crew died and four others were injured, including three in critical condition.

“These reckless attacks by the Houthis have disrupted global trade and taken the lives of international seafarers,” CENTCOM said in a statement.

The British Embassy in Yemen’s capitol of Sanaa announced the deaths of at least two sailors, saying their deaths were “the sad and predictable result of the Houthis’ reckless missile launches on international shipping.”

“They must stop,” the embassy wrote in a statement. “Our deepest condolences are with the families of those who died and those who were injured.”

The Iran-backed Houthis claimed responsibility for the strike on the Liberian-owned and Barbados-flagged bulk carrier called the True Confidence near Yemen, after issuing a warning to the vessel to leave the area.

The crew was forced to abandon the vessel and coalition ships tasked with defending them are responding to the damaged commercial ship, according to the U.K. Maritime Authority.

A Houthi spokesperson delivered a video statement later on Wednesday, saying fighters “carried out a [targeted] operation” that was precise and sparked a fire on the ship.

The Houthis warned other ships, saying they must “respond to the calls of the Yemeni naval forces and all crews of the targeted ships must quickly depart after the first strike.”

The strike is the latest clash between the Houthis and commercial shipping and a U.S.-led task force in the Red Sea and waters around Yemen.

The Houthis have defied U.S. and U.K. strikes on their facilities and weapons outposts since January.

The Iran-backed group has targeted ships dozens of times since November — with most attacks unsuccessful amid U.S. efforts to down incoming drones and rockets — but the fighters have sunk one commercial boat and hijacked another.

The Houthis have tied their campaign in the Red Sea to the Israeli war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The group said in Wednesday’s statement it “will continue to fulfill their religious, moral and humanitarian duties in assisting the oppressed Palestinian people.”

“Their operations in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea will not stop until the aggression ceases and the siege on the Palestinian people in [the] Gaza Strip is lifted,” it added.

Updated at 5:16 pm.

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