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Projectiles strike ships off Yemen: security firms

Projectiles struck two cargo ships off the coast of Yemen on Saturday night without causing any casualties, maritime security agencies said.

An Antigua and Barbuda-flagged cargo ship caught fire after being hit by a missile off Yemen on Saturday night, maritime security firm Ambrey said.

“The ship was heading southwest along the Gulf of Aden at a speed of 8.2kts when the forward station was struck by a missile. A fire started but was neutralised,” Ambrey said in a statement.

A second missile was sighted but missed and “small boats in the vicinity opened fire on the ship” causing it to change direction to port.

“No injuries were reported,” the security firm added.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), run by Britain’s Royal Navy, said an “unknown projectile” hit a vessel off Yemen around 2000 GMT on Saturday, setting a small fire in the mooring station that was extinguished.

“All crew are reported safe and the vessel is now proceeding to its next port of call,” it said.

In a separate incident on Saturday night, the UKMTO reported another projectile struck a ship “on the aft section”, resulting in a fire. No casualties were reported.

“Vessels are advised to transit with caution,” it said.

On Sunday, a missile struck an Antigua and Barbuda-flagged cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden in a suspected attack by Houthi rebels in Yemen, according to authorities.

The missile hit the ship’s forward station, starting a fire that those on board later put out, the private security firm Ambrey said. A second missile fired at the ship missed and people “on board small boats in the vicinity opened fire on the ship during the incident,” Ambrey added, though no one was hurt onboard.

Suspicion for the attack immediately fell on the Houthis. The rebels did not immediately claim the assault, though it can sometimes take hours or even days for them to acknowledge their attacks.

The attacks come amid a campaign of drone and missile strikes against Israeli-linked shipping by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The rebels’ attacks, which they say are in support of Palestinians, have prompted some shipping companies to detour around southern Africa to avoid the Red Sea, a route that normally carries about 12 percent of global trade.

Since January, the United States and Britain have launched strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen in response to the attacks.

The strikes have done little to deter the Houthis, who have vowed to target US and British vessels as well as all ships heading to Israeli ports.

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