Houthi Attack On Merchant Ship Caused Fatalities For The First Time: REPORT

Dario Bonazza/via REUTERS

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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A suspected Houthi attack on a merchant ship Wednesday killed mariners for the first time since the terrorist group began firing weapons at ships transiting the Red Sea in November, according to multiple reports.

A Houthi ballistic missile struck the Barbados-flagged, Liberian-owned bulk carrier M/V True Confidence, killing at least two crew members and injuring at least six more, CNN reported, citing two U.S. officials. The Associated Press also reported the assault caused “fatalities” and forced the crew to abandon ship, the first deadly attack among the dozens the Houthis have carried out in association with their opposition to Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza, authorities told the AP.

U.S. Navy warship and forces from the Indian navy were on scene to assist in rescue efforts, a U.S. official said, according to the AP.

The crew deployed lifeboats to escape the ship, indicating a more serious incident than previous Houthi attacks, the AP reported, citing the U.S. defense official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters. (RELATED: Iran-Backed Attacks On US Troops In Iraq, Syria Faded Since Massive Retaliation. Why Are The Houthis Still Attacking?)

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), which tracks reports of maritime incidents for the British military, earlier said the merchant vessel had been struck and suffered damage. Coalition forces are responding, according to the group.

“The vessel has been abandoned by the crew and is no longer under command,” UKMTO noted.

Individuals claiming to be the Yemeni armed forces hailed the True Confidence as it passed around the Gulf of Aden, the officials said, according to the AP.

Separately, Reuters reported three missing crew members of the 2o crew and three armed guards on board, and an additional four sailors who sustained severe burn injuries, citing a shipping source. A fire continued to rage on the bulk carrier as it drifted in the sea.

The Houthis have yet to claim the attack, although they can sometimes take several hours to acknowledge their assaults.

A U.S. guided-missile destroyer shot down drones and a missile launched by the Houthis on Tuesday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a statement.

The Indian navy earlier released images depicting its efforts to stamp out a fire aboard another container ship, according to the AP.

On Feb. 18, a Houthi missile attack critically damaged the U.K.-owned M/V Rubymar that was carrying fertilizer, forcing the crew to abandon ship, according to CENTCOM. The Rubymar has since sunk, CENTCOM confirmed on March 2, after the ship lay immobilized and leaking fuel into the Red Sea for several days.

Together with the United Kingdom, U.S. aircraft, warships and a submarine in the Red Sea have conducted four rounds of premeditated strikes on Houthi missile launchers, weapons storage sites, helicopters and other targets in Yemen. CENTCOM forces have also executed dozens of in-the-moment attacks on moving drone and missile targets prepared to launch from Yemen, but attacks continue.

The National Security Council, Department of Defense and CENTCOM did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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