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Houthi attack on ship off Yemen: Sri Lankans among crew members rescued

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A Houthi missile attack killed three seafarers on a Red Sea merchant ship, which had a crew of 20 members including two Sri Lankans, on Wednesday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said, the first fatalities reported since the Iran-aligned Yemeni group began strikes against shipping in one of the world’s busiest trade lanes.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, which set the Greek-owned, Barbados-flagged ship True Confidence ablaze around 50 nautical miles off the coast of Yemen’s port of Aden.

In an earlier message on X responding to the Houthi claim, Britain’s embassy wrote: “At least 2 innocent sailors have died. This was the sad but inevitable consequence of the Houthis recklessly firing missiles at international shipping. They must stop.”

The Houthis have been attacking ships in the Red Sea since November in what they say is a campaign in solidarity with Palestinians during the war in Gaza.

Britain and the United States have been launching retaliatory strikes against the Houthis, and the confirmation of fatalities could lead to pressure for stronger military action.

CENTCOM said the Houthi strike also injured at least four crew members and caused “significant damage” to the ship. Earlier, a shipping source said four mariners had been severely burned and three were missing after the attack.

The Greek operators of the True Confidence said the vessel was drifting and on fire. They said no information was available about the status of the 20 crew and three armed guards on board, who included 15 Filipinos, four Vietnamese, two Sri Lankans, an Indian and a Nepali national.

Meanwhile the Indian navy on Thursday said it “swiftly” responded to a maritime incident in the Gulf of Aden and rescued 21 people.

“INS (Indian Navy Ship) Kolkata, deployed for maritime security operations arrived at the scene of action and rescued 21 crew members, including one Indian national, from the life raft using its integral helicopter and boats,” the navy said, adding that critical medical aid was provided to the injured crew by the ship’s medical team.

It said the crew were subsequently evacuated to the East African country of Djibouti.

Amid attacks in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea, India has deployed its warships as a “force deterrent” in the region.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have significantly stepped up their involvement in the current conflict in the Gaza Strip by targeting vessels in the southern Red Sea.

The Red Sea is one of the world’s most frequently used sea routes for oil and fuel shipments.  Foreign Media

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