The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said on Wednesday that it foiled an “imminent terrorist attack” on an oil tanker off Yemen’s coast on the Arabian Sea.
The tanker was sailing 90 nautical miles (167km) southeast of Yemen’s Nishtun port towards the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday when it was targeted by four boats, with one of the remotely controlled vessels attempting to explode it, coalition spokesman Turki al-Malki said in a statement carried on state news agency SPA.
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The statement did not say who was behind the attack or give details about the oil tanker.
“The Joint Forces Command of the Coalition will continue to implement all necessary measures and procedures to neutralise and eliminate any naval threats,” al-Malki added.
Yemen lies along the Bab al-Mandeb Strait at the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the most important trade routes for oil tankers heading from the Middle East to Europe.
The military coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has in the past accused Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement – which it has been battling for five years – of trying to attack vessels off the coast of Yemen with unmanned boats laden with explosives.
Last month, the alliance said its naval forces destroyed a Houthi explosive-laden boat launched in the southern Red Sea from Hodeidah province in western Yemen.
The Western-backed coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government that was ousted from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014 by the Houthis, who now control most major urban centres.
Tens of thousands of people, many of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict, relief agencies say.
The fighting has triggered what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with millions displaced and in need of aid.