Yemen’s Houthis say they attacked ships in Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean

Iran-aligned group has threatened to increase attacks on shipping until ceasefire reached in Israel’s war on Gaza.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed attacks on two ships in the Gulf of Aden and one in the Indian Ocean.

The MSC Diego and the MSC Gina were attacked with ballistic missiles and drones in the Gulf of Aden, the Iran-aligned group’s military spokesperson Yahya Saree said on Thursday.

The attacks on the ships in the Gulf of Aden – identified by the Houthis as the “Israeli” MSC Diego and the MSC Gina – were “accurate”, Saree said, without providing details.

However, the United States-led Joint Maritime Information Center said two missile attacks took place on Tuesday, adding that no ship was hit and the crews were safe.

The centre, a coalition of countries responding to Houthi attacks on shipping in the Middle East, said the vessels were “likely targeted due to perceived Israeli affiliation”.

The two vessels were “Panama-flagged container ships” operating for a Geneva-based company, The Associated Press news agency reported.

The Houthis claimed to hit a third container ship, the MSC Vittoria, in the Indian Ocean.

Saree warned earlier this month that the group would target ships heading to Israeli ports in “any area we are able to reach” and announced the decision would be implemented “immediately”.

The leader of the Houthis, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, said on Thursday the group would target ships of any company related to supplying or transporting goods to Israel regardless of their destination.

He said this was a fourth stage of escalation in retaliation to “the Israeli aggression on Rafah” in the southern Gaza Strip.

“From now on, we are also thinking about the fifth stage and the sixth stage, and we have very important, sensitive and influential choices on the enemies,” he added.

The group has launched repeated drone and missile attacks on vessels in the crucial shipping channels of the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandab strait and the Gulf of Aden since November in what it says is a campaign of solidarity with Palestinians and against Israel’s war on Gaza.

This has forced shipping firms to reroute vessels to longer and more expensive journeys around Southern Africa.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies