Updated March 7th, 2024 at 08:35 IST

Houthi Missile Strikes Kill Three Sailors in Gulf of Aden, First Fatal Assault by Militant Group

Amid the brewing turmoil in the Red Sea, three sailors were killed and several others were injured after a Houthi missile struck a ship in the Gulf of Aden.

Reported by: Bhagyasree Sengupta
Houthi missile attacks kill three sailors | Image:X - @CENTCOM
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Red Sea Crisis – Amid the brewing turmoil in the Red Sea, three sailors were killed and several others were injured after a Houthi missile struck a ship in the Gulf of Aden. The tragic incident has become the first set of fatalities on crew of commercial shipping since the Houthis launched their operation in the Red Sea. The incident which took place on Wednesday not only led to the death of crew members but also forced survivors to abandon the vessel on Wednesday. Earlier, the British embassy in Yemen confirmed that two people were killed in the tragic incident. Later the US Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed that the death toll increased to three. 

“At approximately 11:30 a.m. (Sanaa time) On March 6, an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) was launched from Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist-controlled areas of Yemen toward M/V True Confidence, a Barbados-flagged, Liberian-owned bulk carrier, while transiting the Gulf of Aden. The missile struck the vessel, and the multinational crew reports three fatalities, at least four injuries, of which three are in critical condition, and significant damage to the ship,” CENTCOM wrote on X, formally known as Twitter. “The crew abandoned the ship and coalition warships responded and are assessing the situation. This is the fifth ASBM fired by Houthis in the last two days. Two of these ASBMs impacted two shipping vessels - M/V MSC Sky II and M/V True Confidence - and one ASBM was shot down by USS Carney (DDG 64). These reckless attacks by the Houthis have disrupted global trade and taken the lives of international seafarers,” the statement further reads. 

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Meanwhile, the maritime security firm Ambrey said that the ship which was struck by the missile, sustained damage and noted that the rescue operation was “underway with parts of the crew already in lifeboats," The Guardian reported. The Iran-backed militant group launched lethal drone and missile attacks against international commercial shipping in mid-November. During the start of their operation, the militant group stated that they were acting in solidarity with Palestinians to oppose Israel’s military actions in Gaza. However, the group was eventually accused of attacking ships that were not even heading to or coming from Israel. 

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The crisis continues to escalate

According to The Times of Israel, the attack was conducted on the Barbados-flagged bulk carrier True Confidence which has been hailed over radio by individuals claiming to be the Yemeni military. However, the full extent of the damage remains unclear. Amid the chaos, Iran on Wednesday announced that it would confiscate a $50 million cargo of Kuwaiti crude oil for American energy firm Chevron Corp. This marked the latest twist in a yearlong shadow war playing out in the Middle East’s waterways even before the Houthi attacks began.

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It is also important to note that the latest attack came after the British embassy in Yemen warned of dire environmental consequences from the Houthi sinking of a Belize-flagged and Lebanon-owned carrier, Rubymar. The ship sank at the weekend after drifting on the Red Sea for nearly a fortnight. The intensifying disruption has led several shipping firms and oil companies to suspend or redirect voyages from the crucial route. 

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Published March 7th, 2024 at 08:35 IST