UK navy declares vessel ablaze due to missile assault in Gulf of Aden


(MENAFN) In a concerning development, a maritime vessel was set ablaze after being struck by two missiles southeast of the Yemeni port of Aden on Thursday, as reported by the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO). The incident occurred amidst escalating attacks by Houthi militants in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, with no group claiming responsibility for the latest assault. Notably, the Houthi militants, who control significant parts of Yemen, have intensified targeting merchant ships in response to Israel's military operation in Gaza that commenced in October.

The UKMTO, a monitoring service operated by the British Navy, disclosed that the Thursday attack took place 70 nautical miles from Aden, prompting a response from coalition forces. An ongoing investigation aims to ascertain details about the type of vessel struck, the extent of damage, and any potential casualties. Ship-tracking data has identified the affected vessel as the Palau-flagged cargo ship "Islander," en route from Thailand to Egypt, according to the Associated Press.

This incident follows recent claims by the Houthis, who asserted responsibility for targeting an Israeli cargo vessel, multiple United States warships, and a British vessel earlier in the week.

Describing the event as "catastrophic," the alleged attacks forced crews to abandon their respective ships. In response to the heightened threat, the United States and the United Kingdom have formed an international coalition aimed at safeguarding navigation in the volatile region.

The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) reported conducting "self-defense strikes" against Houthi missiles and a launcher prepared to fire from Yemen towards the Red Sea on Wednesday. According to CENTCOM, the weapons posed an imminent threat to merchant vessels and United States Navy ships in the region.

As tensions escalate in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, the international community faces challenges in ensuring maritime security in the strategically vital waterways. The ongoing attacks underscore the complexities surrounding the conflict dynamics in the region, with global powers mobilizing to protect vital shipping lanes against the backdrop of geopolitical tensions.

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