UK-registered cargo ship reported under attack in Bab al-Mandab Strait, says maritime security firm

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - CAIRO, Feb 19 — A UK-registered cargo ship reported being under attack in the Bab al-Mandab Strait off Yemen yesterday, said British maritime security firm Ambrey, while UK Maritime Trade Operations agency reported crew abandoning a ship off Yemen after an explosion.

Ambrey said yesterday that a Belize-flagged, UK-registered and Lebanese-operated open hatch general cargo ship had reported being under attack in Bab al-Mandab Strait.

The ship was heading north during its journey from Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates to Varna, Bulgaria, when the attack occurred, Ambrey said.

“The partially laden vessel briefly slowed from 10 to six knots and deviated course, and contacted the Djiboutian Navy, before returning to her previous course and speed,” it said.

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The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said it had received a report of an incident 35 nautical miles south of Yemen’s Al Mukha, and that an explosion in close proximity to a vessel had resulted in damage, the agency said in an advisory note. It did not identify the ship.

“Military authorities report crew have abandoned the vessel”, UKMTO added in an updated advisory note early on Monday, adding that the vessel was at anchor and all crew were safe.

Yemen’s Houthi group has launched repeated drone and missile attacks against international commercial shipping in the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait since mid-November, saying it is acting in solidarity with Palestinians as Israel wages war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

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The attacks have prompted several companies to halt Red Sea journeys and opt for a longer and more expensive route around Africa, and US and British warplanes have carried out retaliatory strikes across Yemen.

There was no immediate comment in Houthi-run media on the incident. — Reuters

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